Zesa in solar boilers move

ZIMBABWE has made a giant step towards transitioning from coal boilers to solar boilers to produce clean energy in line with the global climate change mitigation drive after signing an agreement with Absolicon Solar Collector AB of Sweden to manufacture solar collectors in Zimbabwe to use solar energy.

This will be new technology not only in Zimbabwe, but in the region as Zimbabwe takes the lead in energy transition from fossil fuel boilers to clean energy boilers for generating steam and other industrial uses.

The agreement was signed yesterday at the Zimbabwe pavilion at the Dubai Expo City, venue for the ongoing United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) in Dubai, UAE.

Transitioning to solar energy and climate financing are some of the key focus areas at the global event where African countries have united in the call to pin developed countries to implement their promise for a US$100 billion funding to climate mitigation.

Zesa executive chairman Dr Sydney Gata yesterday signed the agreement on behalf of Government while Mr Joakim Bystrom, chief executive for Absolicon, signed on behalf of the Swedish company.

He also signed two other agreements with Africa Greenco, a company co-owned by UK and Danish governments with projects in Zambia and South Africa, with other Sadc countries such as Namibia expected to join in.

The agreement came after Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Sweden, Priscila Misihairabwi Mushonga, who is attending COP28 and was present at the signing ceremony, saw opportunities in solar projects in Sweden and reached out to Zesa, Dr Gata said.

The agreement will see a robotic manufacturing plant producing solar collectors to provide fossil-free heat, replacing 1 400 coal-fired boilers currently in use in Zimbabwe being established in Harare, Dr Gata said.

“Today marks a momentous occasion as we gather here to witness the signing ceremony between ZESA Holdings and Absolicon, marking a significant step towards a cleaner and more sustainable future for Zimbabwe.

“The solar collectors produced by Absolicon’s robotic manufacturing plant will revolutionise our energy landscape. These collectors will heat water to produce steam at temperatures of up to 160 degrees Celsius, thereby offering a clean and renewable energy alternative.

“By deploying these collectors in various sectors such as hospitals, beverage manufacturers, tea estates, hotels, and district heating, we will significantly reduce our reliance on coal-fired boilers, which contribute to carbon emissions and air pollution,” said Dr Gata.

He said Zimbabwe relies on coal-fired boilers both at industrial and household level, with coal coming from Hwange where fossil fuel fired engines are used both in mining and transport.

Dr Gata said with the establishment of the robotic manufacturing plant Zimbabwe will be able to produce the solar collectors locally, eliminating the need for long-distance transport and reducing carbon footprint.

“The implementation of this project comes at a cost of US$7.6 million, and we are fully committed to securing the necessary financing. We will be exploring opportunities on the capital markets together with Absolicon to ensure the successful procurement of the required technology.

“In this regard, we are currently in discussions with the Embassy of Sweden in Zimbabwe and there are promising prospects of obtaining a security guarantee instrument from SIDA (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency),” he said.

“By embracing this clean and renewable energy solution, we are taking a significant step towards reducing carbon emissions, improving air quality, and promoting sustainable development in Zimbabwe. We are confident that this project will not only provide us with a cleaner source of heat energy but also create local job opportunities and foster technological advancements in our country.

“The establishment of Absolicon’s robotic manufacturing plant and the production of solar collectors for clean heat energy is a transformative initiative for Zimbabwe. It marks a significant milestone in our journey towards a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future. Together with Absolicon and our partners, we will continue to explore opportunities, secure financing, and drive the successful implementation of this project,” he said.

Modalities are underway to finalise processes leading to start of actual civil works.

The new solar plant will supply the country’s industries with fossil-free heat generated from steam that will come from heat generated by the solar which will also power households.

Absolicon chief executive Mr Bystrom said the two partners will cooperate in mass production of solar collectors in Zimbabwe.

“The agreement describes the steps to the establishment of Absolicon’s robotised production line and involves an initial payment of 100,000 Euro. The plans for a production line in Zimbabwe show that the demand for renewable and secure energy supply is global,” said Mr Byström.

Compared to Sweden, Zimbabwe has longer sunny days hence huge opportunities for solar energy.

Ambassador Misihairabwi Mushonga said the agreement is the fruit of the Second Republic’s re-engagement strategies and President Mnangagwa’s Zimbabwe is open for business mantra.

“The agreement with Africa Greenco seeks to revolutionalise electricity markets and promoting the use of renewable energy sources in Zimbabwe.

“It will allow Africa Greenco to access and use our grid for electricity trading and opens up opportunities for renewable energy integration, facilitates the efficient use of our resources, de-risks investment into renewable energy and also reduces burden on the fiscus.”

Dr Gata said Africa Greenco’s presence exemplified the importance of private sector participation in the development of our energy industry and aligns with the vision of transitioning to a greener energy landscape without placing an undue burden on governments and the public sector.

“It is a testament to the importance of fostering public-private partnerships to achieve our shared goals. By embracing renewable energy and encouraging private sector involvement, we are not only diversifying our energy mix but also promoting economic growth, job creation, and environmental sustainability,” he said.

Greenco chief executive Ms Anah Hajduka said access to Zimbabwe grid will enable GreenCo to support the development of renewable energy generation and to provide new sources of supply to the many burgeoning Zimbabwean businesses that urgently require additional power to implement their ambitious expansion plans.

She said Africa GreenCo Group, through its Zimbabwean operating subsidiary ZimGreenCo Power Services (Pvt) Limited was committed to advancing the renewable energy sector in the region and fostering sustainable development.

Zesa was expected to sign another agreement with a Dubai Company.


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