Bulawayo power station

From Global Energy Monitor

Bulawayo power station is a 90-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

There are plans to refurbish and repower the station.


The map below shows the plant in Bulawayo.

Loading map...


The plant was commissioned between 1947 and 1957 as an undertaking by the Municipality of Bulawayo. It joined the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority in 1987. While Bulawayo initially had an installed capacity of 120 MW, it was refurbished in 1999 to 90 MW. The main materials the plant uses to generate electricity are coal, chemicals, oil, and greases. The station generates an average of 30 MW.[1]

As of 2016, the plant was planned for another refurbishment at a cost of US$87 million. The plant was expected to be 90 MW when completed, and was expected to be completed in mid-2018.[2] In March 2016, it was reported that construction was planned to begin by the end of 2016.[3]

In April 2017, it was reported that work on the refurbishment would start soon after ZESA secured US$90 million from an unnamed Indian bank. A company said that a separate challenge for the plant was securing coal efficiently from Hwange Colliery due to logistical challenges.[4]

After securing $110 million from India's Eximbank and the Government of India, Bulawayo Power Station repowering was stalled by contractual disputes between ZESA and Bulawayo City Council (BCC).[5] The dispute was resolved in April 2019, with Zimbabwe Power Company receiving a license for the station after hearing objections from the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association and the Bulawayo City Council.[6]

Despite these developments, IJGlobal reported in March 2019 that the government of Zimbabwe had cancelled plans for refurbishing Bulawayo power station, stating that the US$87 million loan from India's Eximbank had not been signed, and that the contract had been cancelled because the EPC contractor, Jaguar Overseas, had failed to secure sufficient funding for the project.[7]

In June 2019, a federal committee toured the facility and found that the machines were ancient, unreliable, unserviceable, and with no spare parts available for the units.[8] In addition, the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) was awaiting the conclusion of the tender process to kick start the upgrading and repowering, and confirmed that it had secured funding. One key development for the repowering project was the construction of a pipeline from Khami Dam to bring water for the station’s boilers.[9]

In July 2019, two Indian companies pre-qualified for the tendering process for the repowering project. The general manager for plant refurbishments said "you will see that between April 2020 and March 2022, we should be in implementation.”[10][11]

As of October 2019, preparation of tender documents for the project still appeared in progress.[12] Between 2019 and December 2021, "Power Column" reports by ZPC did not provide any further updates about the project.[13]

However, in May 2020, reporting suggested that ZPC still had a funding commitment secured.[14] In addition, an April 2021 article noted that EximBank was assessing a tender bid submitted by an Indian contractor. The US$87m loan had a 13-year tenure, a grace period of three years, and a repayment period of 10 years at two percent interest rate per annum.[15]

A May 2022 article includes claims by ZPC that plans to reopen the plant were "on course".[16] However, the company also noted that they are increasing their focus on renewable energy options, namely the Gairezi Hydro Power Plant and the Batoka Gorge Hydro Power Plant.[17]

Iconic cooling towers

The power station's cooling towers helped give the city of Bulawayo one of its nicknames: Kontuthu Ziyathunqa, a Ndebele phrase for "smoke arising" (aka "The Place with Smoke that Bellows").[18]

In a June 2019 press release, Zimbabwe Power Company provided additional details about the repowering project and addressed controversy surrounding cooling tower upgrades: "It has come to our attention that there is an outcry by the Bulawayo community over the planned demolition of two cooling towers at Bulawayo Power Station (BPS). (...) While ZPC appreciates the sentimental attachment towards the iconic towers by Bulawayo residents, demolition eliminates and ameliorates the aforementioned hazards thereby ensuring continued electricity generation in a safe environment, and full restoration of the 'Kontuthu Ziyathunqa' identity through refurbishment of cooling towers 3, 4, 5 and 6 which is to be done in support of the repowering project."[19] In July 2019, reporting highlighted that certain aspects of the repowering project continued to be contested.[20]

Project Details

  • Sponsor: ZESA Holdings
  • Parent company:
  • Location: Bulawayo, Bulawayo province, Zimbabwe
  • Coordinates: -20.158611, 28.575278 (exact)
  • Status: Permitted
  • Gross Capacity: 90 MW
  • Type: Subcritical
  • Projected in service: 2022 (refurbishment)
  • Coal Type:
  • Coal Source:
  • Source of financing: US$110 million in debt from the Export-Import Bank of India and the Government of India (cancelled)[21] [3]

Articles and resources


  1. "Bulawayo Power Station," Zimbabwe Power Company, accessed September 2016
  2. "Bulawayo Thermal Power Station refurbishment to be completed in 2018," Sunday News Online, June 5, 2016
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Zimbabwe: Refurbishment of Bulawayo Power Station Deferred," All Africa, March 3, 2016
  4. Robin Muchetu, "Byo Power Station refurbishment to start," Sunday News, April 30, 2017
  5. "Achieving self-sufficiency in electricity generation in Zimbabwe," Bulawayo 24 News, accessed June 2019
  6. "ZPC gets licence for Bulawayo Power Station," Chronicle, June 17, 2019
  7. "Zimbabwe cancels Bulawayo rehab contract," IJGlobal, March 27, 2019 (requires subscription)
  8. "Zimbabwe: Parly Committee Condemns Zim's Run-Down Thermal Power Stations," All Africa, June 2019
  9. "ZPC awaits tender process to start work on Bulawayo Power Station," Chronicle, June 6, 2019
  10. "Pre-qualification of prospective bidders for Bulawayo station project complete," Chronicle, July 9, 2019
  11. "Zimbabwe to re-power Bulawayo thermal power station," Construction Review Online, July 4, 2019
  12. "Power Column 3rd Quarter", ZPC, October 2019
  13. "General," ZPC, accessed December 2021
  14. "ZESA cancels power plant projects", Power Transformer News, May 26, 2020
  15. "Indian financier unlocks US$310m loan for Hwange," Business Times, April 29, 2021
  16. "Coal crisis pegs back power generation," New Zimbabwe, May 15, 2022
  17. "Zim Surpasses Power Quarterly Target," The Sunday News, May 10, 2022
  18. "ZESA insists Bulawayo cooling towers NOT being demolished after outcry," Zim Live, June 19, 2019
  19. "Demolition of Bulawayo Power Station Cooling Towers," ZPC, June 20, 2019
  20. "BCC, ZPC standoff looms over power station demolition," The Chronicle, July 6, 2019
  21. Bulawayo Thermal Power Plant (90MW) Rehabilitation, IJGlobal, Updated Apr. 10, 2019

Related GEM.wiki articles

External resources

External Articles