The Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) says the investment in infrastructure development under the Millennium Challenge Compact is crucial in ensuring that power is transmitted from generation sites to distribution points in the Centre and the North.
Acting Chief Executive Officer of ESCOM Peter Mtonda was speaking during a meeting with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) technical team that was in the country in September 2012.
Mtonda says the Corporation does not have adequate infrastructure to support the transmission of power to the Central and Northern Regions of the country, where the demand of electricity is growing fast.
“Presently the link which is the transmission line between Lilongwe and Blantyre is weak, it cannot handle any more loads than it is handling now and because of that we are having problems in managing voltages in the Centre and the North,’’ said Mtonda.
Most of Malawi’s electricity is generated from hydro plants and over 95% of these plants lie on the Shire River. ESCOM is currently using a 132 kV line backbone to transmit power from the generation sites at Nkula, Tedzani and Kapichira in the Southern region, to meet the growing demand for electricity in the Central and Northern regions.
During the implementation of the Millennium Challenge Compact, one of the major sub-activities falling under the infrastructure development activity is the upgrading of the transmission network. This sub-activity will focus on building a new 220 kV backbone transmission line from Nkula B to Lilongwe and a parallel voltage line to the existing 66 kV and 33 kV lines from Chintheche-Luwinga-Bwengu in the Northern part of Malawi.
Mtonda says the backbone line is vital in ensuring that investments in generation of electricity pay off because without the line, the Corporation cannot evacuate any more power to the Centre from any new generation plant in the South.
‘’The backbone that is in the Compact is going to ensure that we transfer as much power to the Central region as possible and any delay in the implementation of the backbone is causing serious problems and is affecting quality of supply to all our customers in the Central region. That is the main reason we need this backbone line,’’ said Mtonda.
According to Mtonda, the transmission of power at higher voltages reduces transmissions losses along the lines, thereby improving the terminal voltages. Hence the construction of the 220 kV line will improve the voltages to the Centre and the North.