A local consortium, Triangle Solar System (TSS), is set to build a 90MW solar plant in Chiredzi at a cost of nearly US$90 million after the project was approved by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA).
TSS, led by businessman Mr Paradzai Chakona, was granted a generation licence on May 22 this year and will invest US$88,1 million to develop and construct a 90MW solar electricity generation plant, about 12km west of Triangle.
The project would probably be one of the largest single investment by a local company in the province since independence, which will create over 300 jobs, said Mr Chakona, who is also a Member of Parliament for Zaka Central constituency.
Zimbabwe is currently facing a shortage of electricity due to generation shortfalls and imports a significant amount of power mainly from neighbouring countries — Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia.
Power imports now constitute a significant foreign currency outflow and have put a strain on the foreign currency situation.
“It is a fact that ZETDC (Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company) is importing power from neighbouring countries or regionally,” said Mr Chakona.
“The project when commissioned, will significantly reduce the power import bill.
It will create employment and empower the local community.
“If Zimbabwe continues to import power from neighbouring countries, it will continue to export jobs to those countries.
“The project will ensure jobs are created during and after construction.”
Over the past few years, the country has experienced long hours of power rationing, which have disrupted business operations and resulted in huge losses.
Once the project is completed, TSS is looking at constructing more solar photovoltaic generating plants in Zimbabwe to reduce the power crisis.
The Chiredzi solar power plant will be implemented in two stages of 45MW capacities each.
The planned development site covers a total of 241 hectares of land at the 66km peg Ngundu-Tanganda road.
Based on annual global irradiation of 1 760 kilowatt hour per square metre, a solar PV system of capacity 45MW would be expected to annually generate approximately 73 896MWh of electricity with 66 500MWh sold to the national grid.
The investment includes land preparation, hardware, infrastructure, grid connection and civil works.
TSS expects to roll out the project within six months from date of commencement.
“We expect to start construction in September or October of 2020 before the 2020/2021 rain season commences and completion is expected in the first half of 2021 if all goes well,” said Mr Chakona.
“The engineering and procurement contractor has already been identified from South Africa who will work closely with a local engineering company, project manager and other local expertise.”
Source: The Herald