Zimbabwe commits to 39 solar projects worth $2.3bn

Sep 27, 2019 09:48 PM ET
Zimbabwe commits to 39 solar projects worth $2.3bn
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The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) has processed 39 solar power projects that have capacity to generate 1,151.87 MW, as the country moves towards renewable energy to increase capacity.

The projects are expected to require an investment of over $2.3bn.

In e-mail correspondence with local news The Herald, Zera’s acting chief executive officer, Eddington Mazambani, said: “The authority has so far received and processed a total of 39 solar energy projects, with six of them now functional, two [are] under construction and 31 [are] still to be developed.”

Three of the projects are at concept or pre-feasibility stage, and have capacity to generate 111 MW. Twenty-two of the solar projects are at feasibility and technical studies’ level and have capacity to generate 885.1 MW. While three projects, with capacity to generate 70 MW, are at feasibility or proof of bankability stage.

An additional three projects are at funding stage and can generate up to 53.3 MW when concluded. There are currently two projects at construction stage with capacity to feed 25 MW into the national grid when completed. The six operational solar projects are delivering 7.47 MW into the grid.

The interest in investing in solar projects in Zimbabwe comes at a time when rolling power cuts have become the order of the day due to obsolete equipment at thermal power plants and low water levels at the Kariba Dam.

Cabinet has since approved the implementation of a large-scale programme to promote local production of solar equipment and the use of solar power as an alternative energy source. Further to this, special incentives have been implemented through duty waivers on imported solar equipment and it will be mandatory for all new construction projects to be solar-powered.

A number of companies are taking advantage of this growing investment landscape, including Matshela Energy, Harava Solar, and Centragrid, currently working on solar projects to alleviate power shortages, which have impacted domestic and commercial power users.

Centragrid, which is based in Nyabira, about 40km from central Harare, has started feeding 2.5 MW into the national grid, which can provide power to 1,200 households.

Harava Solar expects to commission its 20 MW project in December this year.

Zimbabwe’s Energy and Power Development Minister Advocate Fortune Chasi has indicated that airports across the country will soon be powered by solar to reduce pressure on grid electricity.

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