Zimbabwe is shutting down three ageing thermal power stations due to rising operational costs and their advanced age, according to the government.

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) Holdings, the state-owned power utility, began decommissioning the power plants in Harare, Bulawayo, and Munyati. These facilities have been plagued by deteriorating conditions and increasingly expensive operations.

Energy and Power Development Minister Edgar Moyo cited the plants’ age and the rising cost of running coal-fired generators as the primary reasons for the decision. The three thermal power plants, with a combined capacity of 240 megawatts (MW), stopped generating electricity between July and September 2023. The official decommissioning process began in October 2023.

“These plants, now averaging 75 years old, have significantly surpassed their intended lifespan of 25 years, making them financially unsustainable to operate,” Moyo explained.

Moyo further stated that the country’s inadequate rail infrastructure contributed to the rising costs, as transporting coal by road proved to be expensive. The power stations sourced their coal from Hwange in northwestern Zimbabwe.

Moyo also acknowledged the difficulty of extending the lifespan of the plants through repowering. He attributed this to limited access to funding for fossil fuel projects due to global concerns about climate change.

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