ZIMBABWE will be able to produce about 200 megawatts from solar power generators within the next 24 months, Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority chief executive officer Engineer Gloria Magombo has said. This comes as the country is facing increased acute power cuts following a major technical fault at its main thermal generating plant, Hwange, which is producing way below its current capacity.
If the projects are completed within the scheduled time frame, they will significantly mitigate the choking power crisis besetting the country. Current output is at 1 200MW against demand of 2 200MW. ZESA bridges the deficit with imports and power cuts. Most of Zimbabwe’s power is generated at Hwange and Kariba Hydro power station. Zimbabwe suffers daily power cuts lasting 10-12 hours daily affecting business, domestic consumers and mines, according to manufacturing lobby group, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries.
“We have about 200 megawatts coming in the next 24 months as part of contributions to the energy security. We are operating in a difficult environment as we speak,” she said at a two-day mining beneficiation conference held at Elephant Hills Resort in Victoria Falls last week. Mrs Magombo said the projects were being developed by the Zimbabwe Power Company in Zvishavane and Gwanda, adding that while the projects have not yet been licensed, setting up the plants would not be a long process as the promoters of the initiatives have sound knowledge of the power industry.
This comes after reports, Geobase Klean Energy, is working on a solar power project with potential to produce up to 250MW as part of a grand strategy to resolve the country’s debilitating power crisis that has seen 18 projects with potential for 6 200MW licensed. “Hwange is producing 137MW at a capacity of 500MW. We have (power) infrastructure problems as equipment has not been maintained over the year,” Eng Magombo.
She said the country should consider importing more electricity as a short term measure, adding that mining firms “must move away from thinking that energy would be solved by others.” Zimbabwe has 12 billion metric tonnes of coal in the north-western part (Matabeleland North), which translates into vast, but untapped potential for coal fired power generation and liquid fuels. It also has hydro power potential of generating over 2 000MW along the Zambezi River and other different sources including mini-hydro power sites in the Eastern Highlands.
It also possesses biomass and waste such as wood and wood waste, municipal solid waste, and large agricultural waste presents opportunities for the generation of electricity through biogas, coal bed methane, about 40 terra cubic feet of proven coal bed methane in the south-western part. The country has high solar radiation averaging 20 megajoules per square metre and 3 000 hours of sunshine per year. Solar photovotaic and or concentration power has a technical potential of over 300 MW.