Solgas Energy to power national grid

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LOCAL independent power producer, Solgas Energy, says it is pushing hard to commission the first phase of its 50 megawatts (MW) national grid-connected solar power plant under construction on a nine-hectare piece of land at Cross Mabale in Hwange by August.

BY WINSTONE ANTONIO

Solgas Energy’s solar power plant is being built at a cost of US$7 million in partnership with a local pension fund.

It is expected to commission a 5MW plant in the first phase, which will then be increased to 10MW and eventually 50MW upon completion.

The renewable energy project has already been granted a national project status by the Finance ministry.
“We were supposed to commission this plant at the end of this month as our initial target to finish construction was supposed to be end of this month, but we have lost some time because of the COVID-19, not only because of the national lockdown this side, but also, in China, where most of our equipment comes from. There was no movement after the outbreak of the virus,” Solgas Energy co-founder and chief finance officer Tafadzwa Mundicha said.

“We are now looking at August as the target month. We are using Seraphim solar panels for the plant, which is a top-tier panel, Hawaiian inverters, string components from South Africa, and output transformers from China that are on the water right now. We are expecting them in between six and eight weeks, depending on when the ship will dock.”

Mundicha said they had signed a 25-year power purchase agreement with the Zimbabwe Electricity Distribution Company’s (ZETDC) for the project.

Apart from the Hwange project, he said the company had targeted “a couple” more projects across the country and hope to agree a financing deal for a further 100MW development by December.

“Zesa has published their intention to do a public tender on 500MW of solar photovoltaic plants in Zimbabwe, which they intend to do in a competitive way, a competitive bidding model which we also intend to participate in as we have what it takes to implement the solar PV plants in Zimbabwe. The ZETDC will actually determine at which sites they want the plants to be built and operate,” he said.