Local renewable energy firm, Harava Solar, has expended an investment of $25 million for the design and construction of a solar power plant in the Seke District, Zimbabwe. The 20 megawatts (MW) plant is expected to save the country up to $4 million per year when the firm starts to supply the national grid.
The project is valued at $27.9 million and spans 20 hectares of land. It is projected to start generating power from January 2020 while the commissioning should be around December this year, Harava Solar Co-Founder and Chief Executive, Ainos Ngadya, told The Herald.
“Harava Solar is an independent power producer licensed to develop, design and construct an initial 20MW solar array at Bwoni Village in Seke,” said Ngadya, who is also CEO and founder of Invest Solar Africa giant.
According to the executive, the firm was licensed in 2018 by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) and approximately $25 million has been invested to bring the project to commissioning around December 2019. “All energy generated will be fed into the national grid, thereby saving the country at least US$4 million per year in power imports,” the CEO revealed.
The investment in the Harava Solar project comes at a time Zimbabwe is suffering from massive power shortages, which have forced the government to resort to long hours of power cuts to manage demand. This shortage of power does not only affect individual and homes but has had negative implications on companies, especially those whose output is centred on electricity. Miners, manufacturing companies, cable providers, local organizations are among those affected by the load shedding as overall industrial activity slows.
In response, the government has switched attention to solar sources of power generation. On Tuesday, the country’s Information Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, announced the removal of import duties on solar-energy-related products including batteries and cables. The government has also mandated that all new construction in the country include solar systems to deal with the power shortages, as repeated droughts impede hydropower generation.
The country will now “promote the importation (and) local production of solar equipment and the use of solar power as an alternative energy source,” Mutsvangwa said. The government also has a target to get at least 1,575 megawatts of power from solar by 2030. This, according to Reuters, is about the same amount of electricity the country produces today from a range of sources.
Furthermore, focusing on solar energy development would help save the government huge amounts of money in power imports. Presently, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) owes South Africa’s Eskom and Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB) a combined $74 million for power imports. The government recently released $10 million to the country’s national power utility to pay part of its debt obligations to both regional power utilities.
The move by the government to waive duty on solar equipment is “a positive improvement and will certainly unleash further investments in the clean energy sector,” Ngadya said while commending the Zimbabwean government.