TWO of Zimbabwe’s major farms are among four companies that are seeking electricity generation licences, as the country’s power crisis continues to worsen.
Poultry producer, Charles Stewart and Hazeldale Enterprises, both major agricultural industry players, have approached authorities for permission to run their own power plants, according to statements released by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera).
Zera said Charles Stewart has applied for a licence to generate a 300 kilowatt (kW) solar plant at Sun Valley farm and a 230kW solar plant at Hatchery which the firm runs in Chegutu, for own consumption.
“The project will be connected to the grid through Waterworks 11 kilovolt (kV) feeder equipped with 75mm3 SCA, emanating from Chegutu 88/11kV substation and the grid will be for purposes of net-metering, which will be done in terms of electricity (net metering) regulations,” Zera’s statement said.
It did not specify how much Charles Stewart’s projects would cost.
But it said another firm with interest in the agricultural sector, Hazeldale Enterprises, was seeking permission to construct a one megawatt (MW) power plant at its Durlstone farm in Macheke, Mashonaland East province.
Farming operations have not been spared rolling blackouts in Zimbabwe, which business leaders fear could compound an already dire economic situation.
Zera said the firms were seeking permission to construct, own, operate and maintain solar photovoltaic
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The energy regulator said other companies that applied for generation licences in the latest round included the country’s second largest hospitality group, Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG) and St Patrick’s High School in Gweru.
It said RTG has applied for a 300kW solar photovoltaic plant for consumption at its Kadoma Hotel and Conference Centre.
“Rainbow Tourism Group (Private) Limited intends to generate power from the proposed solar plant for own consumption. The project will be connected to the grid for purposes of net-metering,” Zera said.
St Patrick’s applied to construct a 157kW solar plant for consumption at the school in Gweru.
The initiative to award licences to independent power producers will ensure an increase in the amount of electricity that the country will be producing.
Zimbabwe has sunk about US$2 billion into power generation in the last decade, but the country is still struggling with outages.