THE EFFECT OF THE CURRENT RAINFALLS ON THE WATER LEVELS AND ELECTRICITY SUPPLY (GENERATION)

How the current rainfalls are affecting power generation

AN UPDATE ON THE CURRENT WATER LEVELS AND THE ENERGY SITUATION IN MALAWI

THE ONSET OF THE RAINS

Malawi started receiving rainfalls in the month of November 2016. According to a forecast by the Meteorological Department, the country should expect to receive normal to above normal rainfall during the 2016 / 2017 rain season.

ESCOM acknowledges that this is good news. With normal to above normal rainfall, electricity generation capacity, which has reduced due to low water levels in Lake Malawi, and reduced water flows in the Shire River, is also very likely to improve.

THE PRESENT WATER LEVEL SITUATION

The rainfall amounts which the country has received recently have not been sufficient to bring major improvement to electricity generation capacity.

As at 30 December, 2016 the impact of rains on Lake Malawi levels was insignificant. According to the Water Department, the normal water levels in Lake Malawi are supposed to be above 474.00 metres above sea level (asl). Within the past years, the levels have dropped to as low as 472.97metres asl. With the recent rainfalls, the lake level has improved by only a meagre 20 millimetres. This has not been sufficient to improve the Shire River water flows to a state where ESCOM can adequately generate power at full capacity to the hydropower stations.

The normal water flows required in the Shire River to generate electricity up to maximum capacity is 264 cubic metres per second. However, despite the rainfalls the average water flows in the Shire River have remained at around 115 cubic metres per second translating to less than 50% of the water flows required to generate at maximum capacity of electricity. Consequently, ESCOM is producing on average, 150 Mega Watts (MW) of power from a total installed capacity of 351MW of hydro plants.

  • about img
  • about img
  • about img

THE IMPACT OF THE RAINFALL ON TRIBUTARIES

EFFORTS BEING MADE TO IMPROVE ELECTRICITY SUPPLY

As the rainfalls improve, power generation is also likely to improve. This will translate into reduction of load shedding periods and frequency.

While we are hoping for good rainfalls in order to improve power generation, we have also embarked on a number of mitigation measures to minimize the impact that the current situation has on our customers. The LED project where we are installing LED bulbs will enable us to save around 30 MW of power from the system. This will further reduce load shedding. Cross border connection with Mozambique which will enable us to purchase power is also at an advanced stage, so is the installation of additional diesel generators in Mzuzu and Lilongwe for peaking. Through these interventions, we hope to minimise drastically the impact of load shedding on our customers