Malawi’s energy supply is dominated by biomass (firewood, charcoal, agricultural and industrial wastes) accounting for 84% of the total primary energy supply. The total installed electricity capacity is currently at 351 MW with around 98% Hydro on the shire river.

The country’s reliance on wood and charcoal use for cooking is highly unsustainable and has highly contributed to destruction of natural forests across the nation. This has led to increased siltation of the shire river thereby negatively affecting power generation.

Malawi has great solar potential with an average of 3,000 hours of sunshine per year.

In terms of petroleum the Malawi consumes approximately 1,000, 000 litres of petroleum per day.

Realizing that it is risky to have all power plants on one river and from one source, Malawi has plans to diversify its energy source to other sources like solar, wind, geothermal etc. Currently, feasibility studies for wind, solar, cogeneration and other potential hydro power sites on other rivers are in progress.

On top of this, the country has a remarkably low national electrification rate at around 10% as compared to her SADC counterparts. While electricity has reached almost 25% of urban households, rural electrification lies only at 5%. Roughly 85% of country’s total population still uses fuel wood for cooking. 

In terms of electricity access rate, even though Malawi has one of the lowest electricity access rates in the SADC region, but nevertheless the access rate has been gradually rising over the last decade due to among other factors expansion of MAREP and the proliferation of other renewable energy technologies more especially solar. The table below shows the gradual increase in electricity access rate for Malawi from 2010 to 2018.

Table: Electricity Access rate for Malawi from 2010 to 2018

 

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

Access %

7.98

8.12

8.26

8.41

9.29

10.07

10.39

10.71

11.09

Urban  %

34

34

34

34

38

42

43

45

47

Rural  %

2

2

2

2

2.2

2.3

2.3

2.4

2.4

Source: ESCOM

Furthermore, the current suppressed electricity demand is around 400 MW against the total generation capacity of 351 MW. The deficit in electricity supply is around 49 MW.

2.1. Electricity Demand and Supply Situation

Malawi’s energy needs continue to increase as various economic activities are being implemented, below are major demand drivers for electricity;

  • Mining Sector (estimated minimum demand of 800MW)
  • Manufacturing and processing (estimated minimum demand of 700MW)
  • Domestic Demand (estimated minimum demand of 700MW)
  • Service Sector – ICT, Tourism, Banking, Health care services, Offices and education (estimated minimum demand of 500MW)
  • The Green Belt Irrigation Initiative (estimated minimum demand of 130MW)

The Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2017 projects that the demand for electricity will increase to in excess of 800MW, 1200MW and 2500MW by 2020, 2025 and 2035 respectively as given in the figure below

 

Figure: Base electricity demand forecast (maximum demand, MW, sent out)

 

Source: Malawi IRP, 2017

In order to meet the growing demand for electricity in the country, the IRP 2017, sets out an optimal generation plan, with a mix of diverse sources of energy which among others includes the following: Kam’mwamba coal power plant-phase 1 & 2 (320MW) by 2020, Tedzani IV hydro power plant (163MW) by 2019 and Kapichira III hydropower plant (804MW) by 2020.   The table below presents some power generation projects to be implemented from 2018 to 2022 as one way of meeting targets of the IRP in the short and medium term.

Table: Power generation projects from 2018 to 2022

Generation source

Year

2018/2019

Year

2019/2020

Year

2020/2021

Year

2021/2022

Kapichira

130 MW

130 MW

130 MW

130 MW

Nkula A

36 MW

36 MW

36 MW

36 MW

Nkula B

100 MW

100 MW

100 MW

100 MW

Tedzani

93 MW

93 MW

93 MW

93 MW

Wovwe

4.35 MW

4.35 MW

4.35 MW

4.35 MW

EGENCO Diesel Plants

51.70 MW

51.70 MW

51.70 MW

51.70 MW

Zambia-Malawi Interconnector

20 MW

20 MW

20 MW

20 MW

Mozambique-Malawi Cross-border Project

1 MW

10 MW

10 MW

10 MW

Kammwamba Coal-fired Plant

 

 

43 MW

258 MW

Salima Solar Plant

40 MW

40 MW

40 MW

40 MW

Nkhotakota Solar Plant

 

21 MW

21 MW

21 MW

Golomoti Solar Plant

 

17.5 MW

17.5 MW

17.5 MW

Kanengo Solar Plant

 

17.5 MW

17.5 MW

17.5 MW

Kanengo-Atlas Solar Plant

 

20 MW

20 MW

20 MW

AGGREKO Diesel Plant

78 MW

78 MW

 

 

Salima Natural Gas Plant

 

 

30 MW

30 MW

Ndiza-Ruo Mini Hydro Plant

 

8 MW

8 MW

8 MW

Gebis Waste-to-Energy Plant

 

10 MW

10 MW

10 MW

Mozambique-Malawi Interconnector

 

 

 

50 MW

Bua-Mbongozi Hydro Power Plant

 

 

 

25 MW

Total Installed Capacity (MW)

553 MW

656 MW

651 MW

941MW

NB: MW represents megawatts

Source: ESCOM

On the transmission front, the IRP recommends the following projects: constructing a (400kV) Mozambique – Malawi interconnector to enable both exports and imports of power, and a new double circuit 132kV overhead line from Nkhoma substation in Lilongwe via substations in Salima, Nkhotakota, Dwangwa to Chintheche substation in Nkhatabay.

 

Other projects include, energy efficiency projects, which are initiatives aimed at managing demand and reducing losses on the system. These efforts are also planned to be undertaken during the short, medium and long term implementation periods. It is envisaged that demand side management and loss reduction initiatives will save about 40MW.

 

In a similar vein, Government through ESCOM intends to address possible capacity challenges that may be caused by drought through diversification in alternative energy sources such as coal, solar, electricity imports and natural gas. The plan is to reduce the contribution from Hydro generation to less than 50% from the current 82% and secure the rest from alternatives sources such as coal, solar and imports.

In order to mitigate the demand-capacity gap, Government through ESCOM plans to mitigate the capacity shortage by implementing demand side management and energy efficient measures through provision of efficient lighting technologies, the banning of incandescent bulbs, tariff incentives and penalties for use of non-efficient equipment. It is estimated that a saving of around 80 MW will be achieved in the short term.

2.2 Petroleum

 As already alluded to; the country consumes approximately 1,000,000 million litres of petroleum (i.e. petrol, diesel, paraffin, Jet A-1 and Avgas) products per day. The fuels are mainly used in transport sector and for power generation. Malawi imports all its petroleum products through the ports in Mozambique and Tanzania. However, the country recently engaged a number of firms to explore oil deposits on Lake Malawi. Government has recently constructed Strategic Fuel Storage Reserve Facilities (SFSRF) for the purpose of storing petroleum products in Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu. The aim of the project is to ensure that there is continuous, reliability and security of supply and storage of petroleum products of up to 60 days of stock. The table below shows total volumes of petroleum products imported into the country from 2015 to 2018.

Table : Fuel Imports (litres) 2015 – 2018

Year

Petrol

Diesel

Jet A-1

Paraffin

Avgas

Total

2015

133,103,655

166,402,223

8,766,307

506,304

176,058

308,954,547

2016

166,190,150

190,395,240

8,841,768

851,795

176,206

366,455,159

2017

184,831,438

226,596,033

9,653,413

632,559

176,714

421,890,157

2018

209,053,949

273,288,620

11,043,449

472,207

88,044

493,946,269

Source: MERA

 There are also concerted efforts to promote utilization of biofuels in order to reduce importation of petroleum products.