Modern life is unimaginable without electricity. It lights houses, buildings, streets, provides domestic and industrial heat, and powers most equipment used in homes, offices and machinery in factories.
To investors, electricity also plays an important role in attracting direct domestic and foreign investments thus boosting economic growth and social welfare.In one way or another, improving access to electricity assists alleviating poverty, worldwide.
The source of electricity also matter most. The cheapest and environmentally friendly sources are favourable to both investors and economic growth. Coal plays a vital role in electricity generation worldwide. Coal-fired power plants currently fuel 41 per cent of global electricity. In some countries, coal fuels a higher percentage of electricity.
According to the World Coal Association (WCA) report, South Africa leads with 93 per cent, followed by Poland 92 per cent and China 79 per cent in the world for the economies use coal-fired plants to produce electricity.In the next three years, Tanzania will join other countries that are using coal to produce electricity with over 1000 MegaWatts (MW) from Mchuchuma, Ludewa and Ngaka, Songea coal mines.
According to the National Development Corporation (NDC), Corporate Affairs Manager, Mr Abel Ngapemba, the two biggest projects are going on and expect to start producing power by 2015.The Mchuchuma- Katewaka coal to electricity, the biggest in the country has the capacity top produce 600MW, expects to start producing 300MW by 2015. Mchuchuma and Katewaka have a reserve of 526 million tonnes of coal.
The project is a joint venture between NDC, on behalf of the government and Sichuan Hongda Group, to form Tanzania China International Mineral Resources (TCIMR) and intends to invest 1.3 billion US dollars to establish 3.0 metric tonnes a year enough to fire 600MW.
Mr Ngapemba said under the agreement the project will construct 220 kV transmission line from Mchuchuma to Liganga in a 400 kV transmission line Mchuchuma- Mufindi to connect to the national grid.In Ngaka projects, Corporate Affairs Manager said, is also a joint venture between NDC and Intra Energy Corporation to form Tancoal Energy that has the capacity of producing 400MW but will start up with 200MW coming 2014/15
The introduction of about 500MW in the national grid will reduce the heavily the country’s dependence on hydropower and natural gas to generate electricity.The second phase president, Dr Ali Hassan Mwinyi, was left speechless following these coal-to-electric developments when he visited NDC pavilion at the just ended 36th Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair (DITF).
“With these projects, (implemented by NDC), then, investors should come as the problem of electricity will soon become history,” Mr Mwinyi, the retired President, said. The reliable power will also attract investments, especially in the manufacturing sector.
The Civic United Front (CUF) National Chairman, Prof Ibrahim Lipumba, said NDC has many projects that could eradicate poverty in the country if empowered by the government and implemented timely.”NDC has a big potential to make Tanzania an industrial country if its projects will be implemented timely and get all the government support,” Prof Lipumba, a lead economist, said.
He added: “We know the work which has been done by this public organisation and we still have faith on them hopefully everything will be going on as planned for the objective of improving the country’s economic well-being”
Due to unreliable power supply, manufacturers are incurring huge revenue losses estimated to be in the tune of 31bn/- per annum in 2011, as electricity is a major input component in production. A study carried by Confederation of Industries of Tanzania (CTI) last year, called “Challenges of Unreliable Electricity Supply to Manufacturers in Tanzania” indicates also the country is losing its competitiveness edge due to upward price adjustments.
Hotels also have faced the challenge of the power woes. For example, the Harbour View Tower was reported saying to light the 12-storey the company is using four generators with output capacity of 2250 KvA.”The generators are gulping 4,500 litres of diesel in eight working hours,” the electrician said. This means the company is spewing out about 7.6m/- in every eight hours that TANESCO’s cuts power.
TANESCO produces about 800MW at full capacity. But in most cases the supply is around 600MW leaving the national power grid without the required 20 per cent buffer stock, hence frequent power outages.The sole electricity power supply sources power from Kihansi dam 100MW, Kidatu 160MW, Mtera 40MW, Pangani 15MW, Hale 5MW and Nyumba ya Mungu 2.6MW.
Others are Songas 142MW, Ubungo gas plant 102MW, Independent Power Tanzania Limited (IPTL) 60MW, Tegeta gas plant 42MW and Symbion 60MW, he said.According to TANESCO it is expecting to generate power from other sources such as Singida windmill project which will produce 50MW, Kiwira coal 200MW, gas Mnazi Bay 300MW and Kinyerezi
Though coal is one of the cheapest sources of electricity but there are environmental concerns, though, with new technologies this can be contained.The current pulverized coal combustion (PCC) technology, according to World Coal Association, allows more electricity to be produced from less coal – known as improving the thermal efficiency of the power station.
“Efficiency gains in electricity generation from coal-fired power stations will play a crucial part in reducing CO2 emissions at a global level,” the Association said.It added: “Not only do higher efficiency coal-fired power plants emit less carbon dioxide per megawatt (MW), they are also more suited to retrofitting with CO2 capture systems.”
By ABDUEL ELINAZA, Tanzania Daily News