BY SHAME MAKOSHORI
SOLGAS Energy, the firm that commissioned a five-megawatt (MW) solar power plant in Hwange last week, said it was targeting to produce 30MW in the next two years.
In a statement, the firm said it intended to add another 25MW by 2024, capitalising on power shortages confronting the country.
Zimbabwe is in the grip of a damaging power crisis, with rolling blackouts that have affected industrial production.
However, authorities predict that the crisis would be addressed by the end of this year, when Zimbabwe completes a US$1,5 billion facelift of Hwange Thermal Power Station.
Still, fresh output from the 920MW Hwange Power Station might not be enough to power an economy that is projected to rebound through ambitious targets set under the National Development Strategy 1.
Several independent power producers (IPPs) have lined up for opportunities being unlocked by the power crisis.
And facilities such as Solgas’ Cross Mabale-based plant are expected to play a critical role in addressing the power crisis.
In an address to delegates at the commissioning ceremony, Solgas Energy chief executive officer Kingston Kamba said fresh capacity would be added in phases in the coming two years.
“We are humbled by the success of this project and the magnitude of benefits the country will reap from it,” Kamba said.
“However, we are not stopping here as we intend to increase the output to 15MW as part of phase two until we get to 30MW by 2024,” Kamba said.
Construction of the solar plant began in 2019, but completion was delayed by COVID-19 pandemic-induced hard lockdowns, which also affected several crucial projects.
“The pandemic did slow down our progress due to disruptions in logistics on the global front among other related issues. Inasmuch as that was the case, we received great support and swift assistance from all the relevant ministries and government offices,” he said.
“The project was granted national project status by the Finance and Economic Development ministry, allowing us to access the necessary foreign currency and equipment more swiftly and we are grateful for this level of acknowledgement and support,” Kamba added
“Alternative energy sources are part of the answer to the effects of climate change and the African continent is best positioned to harness the sun for production of clean and affordable energy. Our main need now is enough funding to be able to put the infrastructure in place”, Kamba said.
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