Synchronisation Of Hwange Unit 7 Almost Failed To Happen - ZESA Boss
ZESA Holdings executive chairman, Sydney Gata said that the synchronisation of the Hwange Thermal Power Station Unit 7 with the national grid almost failed to happen.
The Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) managed to synchronise the first of two generators into the national grid on Monday, 20 March after failing to do so several times.
The two generators make up the Hwange Thermal Power Station Unit 7 and 8 Expansion Project being installed under a US$1.4 billion facility from China Eximbank.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Standard on the sidelines of the 4th International Renewable Energy Conference in Victoria Falls organised by The Standard in collaboration with the Energy and Power Development ministry, Gata said:
The commissioning of the power plant is a very protracted process and it can be up to six months.
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During that time, you start by testing individual components, processes and systems before they are connected to the grid.
You cannot offload the tests, and two of them are very critical.
There is the boiler hydraulic test and then there is the turbo test.
Out of the 20-plus tests, those two tell you whether you have a power station or not.
In our case, and both for Unit 7 and Unit 8, both were extremely successful, well above average responses.
This power plant, even if we may later fail to run it, was designed very well, and was built very well.
Commissioning is after finishing the offload tests or technical tests.
Synchronisation is when you are connecting a proven asset to the grid.
They (the generator and the grid) must communicate in a very complex language called quotation codes.
Now, the design of the communication system is also a science in its own right.
Gata revealed that the synchronisation process was supposed to take place on 13 December last year but this did not happen. He said:
We were supposed to synchronise on the 13th of December last year, but the quotation codes used by the Chinese were not compatible with the ones we use in Southern Africa.
We asked them to design codes that were compatible with our codes.
They failed, so we went to the supplier, ABB China, and they also failed.
He said he was in a state of panic during the Christman period, and a former ZESA employee who is now a consultant for Eskom saved the day. Said Gata:
We were in a crisis. Ndakaita dzungu. I spent Christmas in a state of panic. We were trying to figure out what to do next.
So, we went to South Africa and put out a tender for the services. There were a few companies in South Africa that responded.
One thing that should make Zimbabweans proud is that one of the companies that responded to the tender) is run by a Zimbabwean named David Mvura, a former ZESA employee and a consultant at Eskom.
He is the one who solved the puzzle.
He (Mvura) was here celebrating with us when we successfully synchronised.
We also celebrated his patriotism.
He gave us a quote for two weeks and did it in under that time. Everyone else I mean the South African companies, wanted four weeks or more.
We are very proud and really celebrate him because the embarrassment we were facing was massive because the power station was finished, the grid is waiting and we are load shedding like it’s a fashion.
Thankfully we are over that.
Gata also said that because the sycnhronisation of Unit 7 was delayed, the progress on Unit 8 was catching up and the sycnhronisation of the latter should happen in about a month’s time.
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