Mozambique’s Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Leticia Klemens, has laid the foundation stone for a combined-cycle gas-fired power station in the capital, Maputo.

A combined-cycle power station uses both a gas and a steam turbine together to produce up to 50 per cent more electricity from the same fuel than a traditional simple cycle plant.

The gas to feed the new station will come from the Pande and Temane gas fields in the southern province of Inhambane. When the new power station is complete, in August 2018, it will be capable of generating 106 megawatts (MW) of electricity.

At Thursday’s ground-breaking ceremony, Mateus Magala, the chairperson of Mozambique’s publicly owned electricity company, EDM, said the new power station would cost about 180 million US dollars.

The Japanese International Co-operation Agency (JICA) is providing a soft loan of 167 million USD for the project. The loan carries an interest rate of 0.01 per cent a year, and should be repaid over 40 years, including a grace period of ten years. The remaining 13 million dollars, Magala said, would come from EDM’s own funds.

As well as the construction costs, the financing covers the training of EDM staff in how to operate and maintain the equipment, as well as six years of maintenance services provided by the manufacturer.

“This will be the first combined-cycle power station in the country,” said Magala. “It ensures a more efficient use of our energy resource, natural gas, adding more value and reducing emissions.”

Magala said this type of power generation helps preserve the environment and contributes to sustainable economic development.

The new power plant, plus the continuing rehabilitation of EDM’s hydro-electric power stations at the Chicamba and Mavuzi dams in the central province of Manica, will boost EDM’s power generating capacity from the current 206 MW to around 315 MW by mid-2018.

Most of the power distributed by EDM, however, does not come from its own power stations, but is purchased from HCB, the company which operates the Cahora Bassa Dam on the Zambezi river. HCB’s maximum capacity is 2,075 MW, but most of this is sold to South Africa.

New generating capacity is urgently needed since, according to Magala, Mozambique’s growth in electricity consumption over the past five years has been running at an average of 12 per cent a year, the highest in southern Africa and in order to respond to this demand Mozambique needs to increase its generating capacity by 100 MW a year.

Klemens said the new power plant would be the most efficient in southern Africa, and would contribute to the security of electricity supply to the largest centre of power consumption in the country, the cities of Maputo and Matola.

JICA Representative in Mozambique Katsuyoshi Sudo said the power station would provide a greater supply of good quality and reliable electricity to Maputo city and province. The Japanese combined cycle technology, he added, would increase efficiency and substantially reduce carbon dioxide emissions.