Sunday, May 15, 2016

Kariba Dam between Zimbabwe and Zambia

January 8, 2016
By Matthew Hill

The Kariba Dam between Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Water levels at Kariba dam, (click here) the world’s largest, are at “extremely dangerous” lows that could force a shutdown of its hydro power plants, said Zambian Energy Minister Dora Siliya.
Poor rainfall and overuse of water by Zambia and Zimbabwe, the southern African countries that share the reservoir, have caused its levels to drop, with electricity generation already reduced by more than half. As of Dec. 28, Kariba was 14 percent full, compared with 51 percent a year earlier, according to the dam’s regulator.
“The situation is dire,” Siliya told reporters Thursday in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital. “I’m praying. We sit here and gaze at the sky and say, ‘please, the levels of Kariba are at extremely dangerous levels.’” A continued absence of rains could force the power plants to shut down altogether, she said.
Mining companies in Africa’s second-biggest copper producer have had to reduce their electricity use and buy expensive imports at a time when plunging metal prices have triggered the mothballing of some mines and more than 10,000 job cuts. Households and businesses endure power cuts as long as 14 hours a day. The cost of importing power and emergency generation could threaten the government’s 3.8 percent budget deficit target for 2016....
...Water levels at Kariba on the same date were 477.57 meters (1,567 feet) above sea level, barely exceeding the minimum of 475.50 meters for hydro power operations, according to the authority. The government will spend $1.2 billion to mitigate the power crisis, Siliya said....