Zambia and Zimbabwe have announced that construction works of Batoka Gorge hydro power plant which they co-share will commence next year.
According to a statement from Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), feasibility studies are almost complete. Once engaged, the developer is expected to commence works in the last quarter of 2020.
Batoka Gorge hydropower
The 2,400MW Batoka Gorge plant has been planned for years by the two countries, both of which are struggling with electricity shortages after a drought curbed hydropower output. The project which was mooted in 1992, experienced delays over colonial era debts and community resistance.
GE and Power China are in a consortium that was shortlisted in February to build the facility. The project involves construction of a dam, powerhouses, roads, transmission infrastructure and houses in both Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Batoka Gorge plant will be constructed and all water bodies situated on the 2 700 kilometre long river at an estimated cost of US $4bn. The river also feeds the world’s largest man-made water reservoir, the Kariba Dam, which powers two hydro schemes on either side of the river and operated by the two neighboring countries.
Each power house of the facility will be installed with six 200MW hydroelectric turbines. The catchment area of the reservoir will be 508,000km², while four intakes will be built to send water to both the power plants through 4km-long tunnels.
A crest type spillway with 12 radial gates will be constructed to ensure controlled release of flow from the reservoir. Measuring 13m-tall and 14m-wide, the spillway’s design discharge capacity will be 20,000m³/s.
Construction works is expected to take six years to complete but electricity generation will start in the third year. The project would be on a Build-Operate-Transfer financing model and would not put any fiscal strain on the two governments. As a result, no sovereign guarantees would be needed.