Oliver Kazunga recently in Harare
INDEPENDENT power producer, Nyangani Renewable Energy, says it would fully implement its 10MW mini solar project in Mutoko by end of the year and feed into the national grid.
Named Riverside Solar Power Station, the project sits on a 40-hectare piece of land and is already generating 2,5 megawatts, which are fed into the national grid.
In an interview after a media tour of the plant organised by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) on Monday, station manager Engineer Fungai Bvirakare said the project was being executed in four phases.
“We are carrying out the project in four phases with each phase expected to generate 2,5MW. So far, we are generating 2,5MW and the 7,5MW that are remaining have largely been derailed by the foreign currency shortages the country is facing,” he said.
“If the foreign currency situation is to improve, we are targeting to complete the project feeding 10MW into the national grid by the end of the year.”
The first phase has gobbled US$2,5 million and the renewable energy firm requires foreign currency to import equipment such as solar panels for the remaining phases. Eng Bvirakare said a total of 9 600 solar panels were installed under the first phase. Construction of the solar power plant began in January 2017. Eng Bvirakare said the community in Mutoko was benefiting from the solar project by enjoying reduced hours of load shedding from Zesa. “The community is benefitting from the solar power plant through reduced load shedding of about six hours a day,” he said.
Due to low power generation Zesa has embarked on a massive load shedding programme of about 15 hours a day. The depressed generation is a result of low dam levels at the country’s major power plant, Kariba Hydro Power Station and ageing equipment at thermal stations.
Speaking earlier during an energy journalism workshop in Harare, Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) business performance manager, Engineer Bernard Chizengeya said Kariba Hydro Power Station could be decommissioned by end of next month owing to critical water levels. He, however, said the immediate solution to alleviate electricity constraints was to resort to power imports from the region.
“The minimum level is 475 metres and currently, we are on 478 metres above the minimum level. So, we are three metres above the minimum level.
“If we keep on generating the way we are doing, by September we will actually shut down Kariba. There will be no power coming from there,” he said. — @okazunga