By Bernard Mpofu
Zimbabwe’s Electricity and Distribution Company (ZETDC) has opened bids for the establishment of 500 megawatts (MW) solar-powered stations as Zimbabwe intensifies its migration towards renewable energy sources.
Last year, Zimbabwe endured rolling power cuts lasting up to 18-hours a day after power generation capacity at the country’s largest hydro-powered plant at Kariba Dam declined due to dwindling water levels. The southern African nation experienced El Nino-induced drought that left several water reservoirs dried up.
“The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) is intending to contract 500MW of PV (photovoltaic) solar plants of varying capacities at different identified strategic locations, “ said a public notice issued by the company. The transmission company said solar energy would ease the load on the national grid as well as mitigate climate change-induced risks.
Zimbabwe wants to generate at least 1,000 megawatts of power, or 16% of its total projected generation, through solar and other renewable energy systems by 2025, according to the country’s renewable energy policy.
The announcement by ZETDC comes after a few days when its sister company, the Zimbabwe Power Company, appealed to consumers of solar energy who have excess power to supply it to the national grid. This year, the country’s power situation for domestic consumers improved during the national lockdown, which began on 30 March 2020 when businesses shut down to slow down the spread of the pandemic. The lockdown has been extended indefinitely, but with reviews fortnightly.
Among the key objectives of the government of Zimbabwe is to develop a middle-income economy and achieve a 33% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. A key strategy to deliver these ambitious developments is the renewable energy policy which targets 1, 000 MW by 2025. All these present great potential for the renewable energy sector in Zimbabwe.
Through the renewable energy policy, the country plans to set up a green-energy fund to promote the use of renewables, with the aim of increasing electricity production. The policy aims to promote investment in the renewable energy sector by providing specific incentives.
Tax concessions will be offered to independent power generators selling electricity to the national power utility, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), alongside reduced licensing fees.
“Being a clean source of energy, renewable energy projects shall be provided concessions in licensing fees and enjoy relaxations in other licensing requirements,” says the country’s Ministry of Energy and Power Development.