Solgas expands power generation threshold

by | Oct 11, 2021 | Business | 0 comments

Hosia Mviringi

The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) has welcomed one of the newest feeder electricity power plants onto the national grid.

Solgas Zimbabwe Private Limited, a Solar Power Generation company, in February 2021, applied to the energy regulator, Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) to ramp up power generation by a further 10MW from the initial 5MW to 15MW as the company saw increased potential in the sector, which is characterised by high power demand against constrained generation capacity.

The company established a Solar Power Plant at Cross Mabale, near Hwange National Park.

The power plant upped its contribution to the national grid by another 5MW earlier this week, making it 10MW of power being fed onto the national grid.
The plant is now adding a further 5MW for to see the project reach its full potential as planned.

Hwange has always been famed for being the cradle of power generation in Zimbabwe, with the abundant coal reserves inherent in the Matabeleland North Town.
The power generators at the country’s biggest power station at Hwange have however not been able to extinguish the appetite for power in Zimbabwe, let alone the SADC region due to perennial breakdown of its ageing generating equipment.

However, the region harbours immense potential for renewable energy generation as it boast some of the longest sunshine hours, otherwise known as solar irradiance, in the region for solar power generation and huge untapped natural gas resources.

It was this thinking which saw Solgas choosing to invest in Hwange.

The company, in terms of Section 4(3) of the Electricity Licencing Regulations of 2008 as published in Statutory Instrument 103 of 2008, applied to the Energy Regulator seeking to increase its power generation capacity.

A public notice published then in February 2021 stated that the company intended to, “…construct, own, operate and maintain a 10MW Solar photovoltaic power plant at Cross Mabale in Hwange Rural District in Matebeleland North Province near Hwange National Park”.

The 15 MW will not be enough to see the country out of perenial power cuts, but it is definitely one of the small resolute steps that the country needs to eventually become energy self-sufficient.

The first phase of the project was financed by Old Mutual Plc to the tune of US$7.5 million and will require an additional US$8.5 million for the second phase.

The Solgas project become the third Solar Power plant to come onto the grid after Centragrid in Nyabira which contribute 2MW and Riverside in Mutoko which adds 2.5MW of energy to the national grid.

The country’s solar irradiance ranges from 5.7 – 6.5kWh/m²/day.

Private investment in the renewable energy sector in Zimbabwe is a direct response to the National Renewable Energy Policy launched in 2020, which is proving to be attractive to private investors die to a number of incentives that are inherent therein.