Zimbabwe Battles Power Crisis With 800MW Deficit
…Receives proposal for 107 MW of solar energy plant
…Enters pact to import power from Eskom.
Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) has received a solar project proposal from Power Ventures for the building of a 107 MW photovoltaic solar power plant in Hwange in western Zimbabwe. The independent power company also proposes to connect this solar power plant with an 88 kV transmission line 75 km long.
Also in the bid to overcome raging nationwide power crisis, an agreement was reached last week, allowing the country to access 400MW of electricity per week from Eskom. Zimbabwe is facing an 800MW power deficit and was unable to close that gap as it owed huge debts to Eskom and could not access further supplies, local media reports said yesterday
Observers said electricity supply in Zimbabwe has improved significantly following the southern African country’s agreement with Eskom. This has resulted in Zesa Holdings downgrading load shedding from Stage 2 to Stage 1. The report further explained that power will now only be cut off during peak hours of 5am to 10am and 5pm to 10pm.
Zesa spokesperson, Fullard Gwasira, was quoted by the government local media saying the new development will not result in load-shedding disappearing completely, but will mean it can be downgraded to Stage One.
“This power supply situation gives predictability to load-shedding and largely puts all customers in Stage 1 load-shedding. So there is significant relief, but it does not eliminate load- shedding,” he said. Meanwhile, ZESA has embarked on a blitz to identify and disconnect illegal connections in the country’s major cities.
Electricity from the 107 MW photovoltaic solar power plant in Hwange would be fed into the grid from a 32 kV substation that already exists in the Hwange district. The energy produced by the Hwange solar power plant would be sold to Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), the company that provides the public electricity service.
In a report yesterday, Afrik21 said Power Ventures would like to start the project directly after the opinion of the ZERA. The company also indicates that the project should create 1,000 jobs by the end of 2019. “It gives rise to hope in a country where people are subjected to hours of power cuts every day. In reality, the state-owned company ZETDC is forced to rationalise electricity consumption because of a deficit in production,” the report said, adding that the country has several coal-fired power plants, but they “are in urgent need of renovation”.
The ZETDC relies mainly on the Kariba hydroelectric power plant, which provides about 750 MW of electricity from the Zambezi River. “The problem is that the river’s flow is declining more and more with the drought that has been plaguing southern and eastern Africa for some time. But Zimbabwe has a viable alternative: solar energy. And PPIs are already knocking on Zimbabwe’s doors to exploit this inexhaustible source of electricity,” Afrik21 stated
It said that in fact, ZETDC is yet to publish its opinion on the solar projects proposed by Guarantee Risk Solar and Bushveld Energy (eXcess Africa). These IPPs want to build three 250 MW solar power plants in Goromonzi, Bulawayo and Harare. To do so, they will have to invest $400 million, said the report.