Zimbabwe to bring 100MW of renewable energy projects online by end of 2021

ZIMBABWE – The government of Zimbabwe expects 100 megawatts (MW) of electricity to be added to the national grid from renewable energy projects by the end of the year 2021, with an additional 50MW in thermal power, Information Minister has said.

“Cabinet advises that one thermal power project and ten renewable energy projects will come on board this year,” Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said while speaking at a post-Cabinet press briefing.

“The thermal power project will add 50MW to the national grid, while the renewable energy projects will provide about 100MW, translating to a combined total of about 150MW being realised from the projects,” Mutsvangwa said.

Zimbabwe is enduring load shedding, due in part to limited imports from Eskom South Africa but after itself going through bouts of rolling blackouts, has currently had a brief respite thanks to Koeberg nuclear power station generating power at full capacity.

Zimbabwe’s demand for power hovers around 2,000MW, however, due to ageing equipment, existing power plants are generating far below the national requirement and as of 22 June, Zimbabwe was generating 1,391MW.

With government-owned power utilities failing to provide adequate energy supplies, private companies have committed to invest in their own power plants.

It is hoped that the Independent Power Producers (IPPs), some of which are companies in different sectors of the economy, would produce electricity to meet their operational requirements while excess power would be fed into the national grid to reduce the deficit.

Leading mining company Zimplats, through its parent company Implats, is already conducting feasibility studies for the installation of a 200MW solar plant. 

PPC Limited CEO Roland van Wijnen announced few days ago that its Zimbabwe unit is “looking to be an off-taker of solar electricity produced by IPPs”.

“The thermal power project will add 50MW to the national grid, while the renewable energy projects will provide about 100MW, translating to a combined total of about 150MW being realized from the projects”

In November of 2020, Sun Exchange, a solar crowdfunding startup, started its African expansion in Zimbabwe by commissioning a US$1.4-million crowd sale of shares in a solar farm for fresh produce exporter Nhimbe Fresh, one of Zimbabwe’s biggest fruit and tobacco producers and the solar project is part of its plans to power its entire operation, including cold store and packhouse facilities, through solar power.

Nhimbe said the scheme could cut its overall energy cost by up to 60%.

A total of 1,700 individual investors bought various portions of the 1.9MW plant.

Sun Exchange investors in the solar farm will earn a monthly income stream for 20 years, with an estimated internal rate of return (IRR) of 16.71% in South African rand terms, the firm said.

In the last couple of years, Zimbabwe has been stepping up incentives for solar power generation investors.

According to Energy Minister Zhemu Soda, solar power generation investors can import solar equipment duty-free and can also enjoy five-year tax breaks.

Frequent power cuts in Zimbabwe, which in some parts of the country lasted up to 18 hours, have prompted a number of businesses to seek cheaper and more reliable sources of energy.

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