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Zimbabwe Wants To Fast-Track 27 Solar PV Projects Totaling 1,000 MW To Help Deal With Electricity Crisis. Will It Work?

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Zimbabwe has an installed electricity generation capacity of about 2,300 MW, but there is a huge problem. The Zimbabwe Power Company’s (ZPC) thermal plants are very old and keep breaking down. There are three small coal power plants in Harare, Munyati, and Bulawayo that have installed capacities of at least 80 MW but most of the time, the output at each plant is 0 MW. Then there is 920 MW at Hwange where breakdowns are also common. The plant rarely does more than 500 MW. It usually hovers around 300 MW. Some rehabilitation has started onsite to improve the performance of the units at Hwange. Let’s see how that goes. ZPC is also adding two new 300 MW units at Hwange, with the first 300 MW unit due to come online anytime now, and the second one is due in Q1 of next year.

The country’s other major plant is the 1,050 MW hydropower plant in Kariba. This plant is usually very reliable, however, due to the low rainfalls in the region, ZPC has had to curtail generation to about 300 MW. This is the second time in 3 years low water levels are affecting generation at the plant and implement a load shedding program. The last time was in 2019. So, climate change induced droughts are a major concern now.

There is also a some contribution from some independent power producers, but it’s not much at the moment. IPPs still contribute less than 2% to Zimbabwe’s electricity generation mix. Here is where the other big problem is in Zimbabwe’s electricity sector. Despite having over 100 projects from IPPs with licenses to generate electricity from solar PV and wind etc., very few of them have taken off. Developers have been struggling to reach financial close due to the chaotic currency environment in Zimbabwe over the last decades. Zimbabwe’s currency chaos and inflation over the last decades is well documented elsewhere. This situation doesn’t help people trying to work on long term projects such as 20 year PPAs. In fact, this was recently tested in a landmark case when a developer went to court and lost the currency dispute, hence investments have been very slow in such an uncertain environment.

Now the government says it wants to catalyze growth in the solar PV sector under the standardized Government Implementation Agreement (GIA) for all solar IPP projects. Zimbabwe’s minister of finance recently announced some new measures to help the sector. The Finance minister said “A key ingredient to the successful implementation of the solar IPPs projects is a bankable GIA with an economic tariff. The GIA has three major components which are; Project Development Support Agreement; Power Purchase Agreement; and The Reserve Bank Undertaking for Foreign Currency Convertibility and Transfer.” 

Here is a summary of the solar IPP projects recommended for government support.  The solar IPP projects listed below will generate about 1000 MW for an estimated cost of US$1 billion:

1 Lueven Investments 10 Millgrove Farm, Marondera
2 TD Energy 40.8 Hunyani Park, Norton
3 The Solar Group 50 Chertsey Farm, Gweru
4 Sinogy Power 75 Chapfuche Farm, Beitbridge, Matabeleland South Province.
5 MoPower 50 Orient Farm of Somabhula in Gweru, Midlands Province
6 Africa Oracle 25 Antelope Estate, Chivhu
7 Murombedzi Solar 10.5 Murombedzi Industrial Park, Zvimba
8 New Glovers Solar 10 Glovers Farm, Munyati, Kwekwe
9 DeGreen Rhino 50 Rufaro Farm, Marondera
10 Solarwise Energy 20 Nuanetsi Ranch, Chiredzi District, Masvingo Province
11 Triangle Solar Systems 45 Nuanetsi Range A, Chiredzi District, Masvingo Province
12 Gombe Power Solutions 50 Twyford Estate, Selous, Mashonaland West Province
13 TD Energy – Ecosoft 36 Lot 3 of Stuhm Farm, Goromonzi District, Mash East Province
14 Hapnust Investments 5 Kamureza in Hurungwe District, Mashonaland West Province
15 Custodian Energy 50 Puri Farm, Alaska, Mashonaland West Province
16 Zororo Energy 50 Randhurst Grange Estate, Melfort, Bromley in Mashonaland East Province
17 Camelzone Enterprises 50 Sans Souci Farm, Mashava, Masvingo Province
18 AF Power 50 Upper Nondwene Estate in Bulawayo District.
19 Acacia Energy 50 Chipangayi Growth Centre, Chipinge District, Manicaland Province.
20 Equinox Energy 10 Makaha 30 near Kotwa, Mudzi Mutoko, Mashonaland East Province
21 Parvalue 50 Westgate Suburb, Donnington West, Bulawayo
22 Matshela Energy 100 Timber Farm, Gwanda, Matabeleland South Province
23 Pito Investments 25 Mvuma, Chirumanzu
24 CoreZim Mining 20.6 Sessombi 11 Farm, Kwekwe, Midlands
25 EPCA South 5 Gweru Aerodrome, Gweru, Midlands Province
26 Yellow Africa 50 Subdivision of 3 Broad Acres, Imbesu 3, Ward 8, Umguza Rural District, Matabeleland North Province
27 Indo Africa 10 Rourka Farm, Mutorashnga. Mazowe Distrct

The proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating! Will this work? Will the currency chaos subside? We can only wait and see. Zimbabwe desperately needs all of the over 100 licensed projects to get funded, built and start producing ASAP to help ease the power crises that saw most citizens experiencing 20 hours of load-shedding per day over the past few months.

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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.


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