February 24, 2015 / 12:09 PM / in 5 years

Zimbabwe power cuts worsen after Hwange generators break down

Power lines in Hinsdale, New Hampshire, lead away from the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant (C rear) in Vernon, Vermont August 27, 2013. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe’s state utility ZESA said on Tuesday four generating units at the Hwange power station had broken down, worsening power cuts in the southern African country.

Electricity shortages have been constantly blamed by potential foreign investors as a barrier to foreign investment, while economists say they worsen the cost of doing business.

Hwange power station, which is located in the north west and uses coal to run its generators, has six units with a capacity to produce 920 megawatts (MW). However, ageing equipment and constant breakdowns has meant it produces much less electricity.

Company spokesman Shepherd Mandizvidza said a technical fault had caused the breakdown but gave no details.

On Tuesday, Hwange was generating 181 MW from two units, ZESA said on its website, warning of power shortages.

The power firm also said it was importing 100 MW from nearby countries, increasing its supplies to 983 MW by Tuesday.

Kariba hydro power station, which is undergoing expansion to add a further 300 MW is currently producing the bulk of Zimbabwe’s electricity supplies at 614 MW.

The southern African country has a shortfall of installed generation capacity and supplies 1,200 MW, nearly half the peak demand of 2,200 MW, leading to daily power cuts.

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