Hydrogène de France (HDF Energy) has announced that it has reached a further milestone in the development of Zimbabwe’s first high-powered green hydrogen power plant, the Middle Sabi Renewstable®, by signing an MOU with the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC).
HDF Energy is developing the Middle Sabi Renewstable® in the Chipinge District, Manicaland Province in Zimbabwe. The project is located in the southeast part of Zimbabwe, very far from the country’s largest generation assets in the northwest. HDF says this will create a more decentralized scenario through the generation of stable and dispatchable renewable energy closer to the demand load centers, thus reducing transmission losses and increasing access to electricity for the local population. The plant will produce green power 24/7, feeding into the grid through the Middle Sabi Substation located 4 km from the project site. The annual electric production will be 178 GWh, providing electricity to more than 220,000 inhabitants.
Middle Sabi Renewstable® is being developed within the multi-project, multi-technology, multi-investor Chipangayi Renewable Energy Technology Park (RETPark). RETPark has been under development since 2016, and has obtained all the initial permitting and studies to allow fast development of tenant investments.
The signing ceremony of the MoU for new green hydrogen cooperation was presided held during the International Renewable Energy Conference, in Victoria Falls earlier this week.
This Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Engineer John Diya, representing the Acting Managing Director of ZETDC, and Nicolas Lecomte, Director of HDF Energy for Southern and East Africa. It creates a framework for the joint technical and administrative work to complete the development of this first green hydrogen power plant investment in Zimbabwe, as well as the commercialization of its electricity and grid services, through a dedicated Power Purchase Agreement.
The project partners say this project is in line with the goals and key aspirations of the Zimbabwe Government’s National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) and Vision 2030. This MOU supports the ambitious plan of the Government of Zimbabwe to support the development of over 1000 MW of solar projects by independent power producers to help narrow the severe energy deficit currently being experienced in the country. This substantial rollout will require additional renewable baseload capacity to prevent challenges introduced to the grid by intermittent sources of power generation such as wind and solar: the firm, dispatchable, on-demand characteristics of the Middle Sabi Renewstable® will enhance the country’s ability to expand this solar rollout program without the risk of causing instability to the grid, while still achieving its energy decarbonization targets. The Renewstable® power plant reduces exposure to imported fuels, price volatility and associated supply risks by using local sources of energy and thus helping to sustain domestic power generation.
Furthermore, the cooperation between HDF Energy and ZETDC will kick-start the implementation of green hydrogen investment and development of technical green hydrogen skills in Zimbabwe. This investment will meaningfully contribute to the GDP growth of Manicaland which has one of the lowest provincial GDP’s per capita in Zimbabwe. There will be a positive impact on the livelihoods of the local community through the local jobs that will be created directly and indirectly, as well as HDF’s corporate and social responsibility initiatives.
Nicolas Lecomte, HDF Director for Southern and East Africa, said: “The electricity demand in the country is very high, in part because of the growth in demand by the productive sector, a positive sign for Zimbabwe’s future. Our solution, the Renewstable® hydrogen power plant, is particularly suitable, not only to supply the necessary electricity, but also the network services to improve the stability and operating conditions of the electrical grid. The signing today is a key step in our engagement with the ZETDC for the project, that demonstrates the commitment of HDF to invest in the development work required to reach a bankable power purchase agreement with the utility. HDF expect to reach financial close on the project and start construction in 2024/2025.”
Engineer John Diya, who represented the Acting Managing Director of ZETDC, said: “This is an encouraging milestone for ZETDC as it comes at a time when the Government is encouraging the transition to renewable energy. We are currently implementing initiatives to ensure security of electricity supply. Electricity is a key economic enabler, and we welcome such a partnership in a bid to bridge the demand/supply gap.”
Laurent Chevalier, French ambassador to Zimbabwe attending the ceremony, declared: “France is strongly committed to addressing the global challenge of climate change and promoting the development of renewable energy, and I am glad to see French expertise in the innovative field of green hydrogen develop its presence in Zimbabwe. This project contributes in a concrete way to strengthening the economic relationship and the partnership between our two countries.”
HDF says it operates as an independent power producer (IPP) and develops and operates high-capacity, Hydrogen-to-Power infrastructure that provides continuous or on-demand electricity from renewable energy combined with high-power fuel cells.
HDF has developed two models of multi-megawatt power plants:
- (POWER TO POWER): firm, dispatchable and stable electricity generation from an intermittent renewable source using locally produced green hydrogen.
- (GAS TO POWER): On-demand power generation from green hydrogen from gas transportation networks or any other green hydrogen projects locally implemented.
The Middle Sabi project will have solar PV panels, green hydrogen production and storage, high power fuel cells, and lithium-ion batteries.
Here is a look at how these kinds of systems operate:
- The Solar Power Plant generates the carbon-free primary source of electricity for the Renewstable® Power Plant when the sun is shining.
- The Battery Storage provides the end of the day peak power and, in combination with the hydrogen storage, ensures the stability of the electricity service.
The Long-Term H2 Storage System:
- Converts electricity from the photovoltaic park into hydrogen using an electrolyze system during the day, turning water and oxygen into hydrogen
- Stores the gaseous hydrogen produced in horizontal metallic tanks
- Produces electricity from stored hydrogen using a Hydrogen Fuel Cell during the night
Zimbabwe is currently experiencing one of its worst ever periods of electricity rationing with citizens facing daily power cuts of up to 18 hours a day at times. The country needs as much new generation capacity as it can get online as soon as possible.
Images courtesy of HDF
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