Malawi: 3.4mw Muloza Hydro Power Station Knocked Off By Cyclone Freddy

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The effects of a cyclone has once again incapacitated the energy sector as Freddy destroyed infrastructure for Muloza Hydro Power Station which was supplying 3.4 megawatts (MW) of power — catering for over 2,800 rural households in Phalombe, Mulanje and Thyolo.

The plant was commissioned by Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) on April 17, 2022 by Minister of Energy, Ibrahim Matola after he witnessed the signing ceremony of the Transmission Connection Agreement at Sukasanje, situated along the road from Phalombe to Muloza in Mulanje.

The partnership is under independent power producers (IPP) and at the launch, a highly exhilarated ESCOM Chief Executive Officer, Kamkwamba Kumwenda took cognizance that the power service provider is receiving less power than required due to non-availability of adequate electricity generation power producers in the country, thus their effort to engage IPPs.

The country is facing extensive load shedding due to limited generation capacity after the impact of Cyclone Anna in January last year which resulted in the loss of 130MW from Kapichira Power Station.

Kumwenda stressed that the 3.4MW from Muloza Power Station might seem small to others but he assured it would “have a significant positive impact in reduced shedding program”.

CEDAR Energy has been supplying to not only in Muloza but also to estates, businesses, and residential premises to tea growing and manufacturing districts of Thyolo, Mulanje and Phalombe.

The destruction comes also on the backdrop challenges that CEDAR Energy faced caused by CoVID-19 lockdowns at the outset of the project in 2020 through procurement of equipment from Europe, China and other countries.

The power station diverts water from Muloza River whose source is Mulanje Mountain by gravity through a pipeline that passes into the generation machines and back into the river.

When engaged, ESCOM’s public relations manager, Kitty Chingota said the development has increased the deficit in available power supply and thus necessitating the load-shedding.

Last Thursday, when ESCOM supported Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) K50 million to cater for Cyclone Freddy relief, CEO Kumwenda said they felt obliged to assist the needy affected by the cyclone, even though the natural occurrence also hit the power utility company badly.

He assured that restoration woks started immediately after the cyclone eased down, but not at the pace they would have wanted and also expressed concerns that it was unfortunate “some people have taken advantage of the vulnerability of the infrastructure to vandalise it”.

“Our restoration efforts will a bit delayed because some parts of our infrastructure is not there,” he had said. “We are geared to conclude the restoration works in the shortest possible time except in the areas where our assets have been vandalized.”

In his 2023/2024 National Budget policy statement that was presented in Parliament on March 2, Minister of Finance & Economic Affairs, Sosten Gwengwe indicated that restoration of Kapichira Hydro Power Station — which lost all of its 130 megawatts (MW) it contributes to the national grid due to Cyclone Ana that devastated a lot of economic infrastructure mostly in the Lower Shire Valley — was on course as 50MW will be added back to the grid by the month end of March.

Energy Generation Company (EGENCO) publicist, Moses Gwaza said they had a slight delay in meeting the scheduled target because of the rains that “delayed the work by a week.

“But work has resumed and we are expecting to resume power generation by end of first week of April. Initially, President Lazarus Chakwera had directed a deadline of December 2022 for full restoration but it was shifted to March.

Gwengwe also reported that “the Government is taking meaningful steps to improve the reliability, security, efficiency and utilization of electricity in the country”.