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Zimbabwe to turn to solar power


ZIMBABWE is turning to solar energy for electricity generation to ease power outages in a $250 million project, Energy and Power Development minister Munacho Mutezo has said.


Mutezo told Senators in response to a question about when Zimbabwe would be free from power daily outages.

Mutezo said his ministry was finalising tenders for three solar units to generate 300 megawatts (MW) while a feasibility study on wind energy was currently being conducted.

“The ministry and indeed the government are working on medium-term to long-term projects,” Mutezo said.

“We are looking at projects where we will be able to generate power using solar. We are at the stage where we are finalising tenders for three units.”

Mutezo indicated that it would take close to two years to have the project running, generating 300MW, which would boost the national grid if it does not suffer a stillbirth like other previous projects.

“Each one [unit] will generate 100MW. Just to give you an idea of the size of these units in physical terms, the solar panels that we normally see — the ones to generate that kind of power — will need more than 200 hectares,” Mutezo said.

“The costs involved are also very high, in the region of
$230 million to $240 million per installation of 100MW. We hope once we finalise tenders, it should take us 12 to 18 months to have each one of those working and generating in the region of 100MW.

“It is very true that there is a feasibility study which is being carried out on how to generate wind energy using wind.

“As a ministry, we are aware of it and we are supporting it because worldwide, there is what we call friendly environmental energy which people are seeking for. The same applies to solar energy and also biodegradable which is garbage.”

Zimbabweans have been subjected to load shedding for years as power utility Zesa Holdings battles to raise sufficient capital to invest and build new power stations to generate enough electricity.

Economists have said this had affected industry as most companies cut their operating hours while the intermittent power cuts had also affected plant and machinery, some of which need constant power supplies.

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