Firm pumps US$10m into renewable energy

NEW Sahara Ventures has spent over US$10 million developing renewable energy projects across the country including the US$4,75 million Guruve Solar Park that is already feeding 5MW into the national grid.

The projects also include Sunset Solar farm with an installed capacity of 5,7MW in Matabeleland South Province as well as various off-grid solar plants across the country.

Responding to written questions from this publication, chairman Ainos Ngadya said: “In 2023, New Sahara Ventures connected projects such as Guruve Solar Park (5MW) in Mashonaland Central, Sunset Solar farm(5,7MW) in Matabeleland South and various off-grid solar power plants for farming, industrial and commercial customers across the country.

“This represents more than US$10 million in clean energy investment”.

He said the Guruve Solar Park which is already feeding 5MW into the national grid will be expanded to add at least 30MW into the national grid this year.

“In 2024 New Sahara Ventures is on track to further connect at least 30MW to the national grid under the Guruve Solar Park expansion to provide clean energy to wider Guruve and Mahuwe communities, New Glovers 10MW solar farm in the Midlands Province, Sunports Energy Park in Mashonaland East corridor among other key rural centres,” said Mr Ngadya.

He said each of the renewable energy projects New Sahara Ventures developed, would create around 45 jobs (permanent and part-time) over the next 25 years.

“The projects also create stable renewable energy power for local farmers and industries and act as power import replacement.

“Funding for the projects have been secured from local and regional financial institutions who are increasingly tilting towards impact and sustainable investments,” said Mr Ngadya.

Over the years, Zimbabwe has been facing severe electricity shortages due to recurring breakdowns at Hwange Power Station, the country’s largest power plant before investing in a US$1,5 billion expansion of the plant’s capacity.

The two units were commissioned by President Mnangagwa last year adding  600MW to the national grid. So far, Zimbabwe’s power generation averages 1 400MW including output from IPPs projects.

This is against national demand of above 2 000MW.  

The Government intends to increase Zimbabwe’s overall electricity supply from 2 317MW of installed capacity to 3 467MW by next year. The country’s power situation has been worsened by subdued generation at Kariba on the back of low water levels caused by the adversarial effects of climate change.

As part of the initiatives to address Zimbabwe’s power supply situation, the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority has since 2010 been licensing Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to invest in renewable energy targeting a combined output of 1 100MW from the sector by next year.

The country’s drive towards generating the targeted 1 100MW from the renewable energy sector, has been slowed down by lack of investment by IPPs due to currency volatility and uneconomic tariffs.

Authorities have given guarantees to IPPs with projects of a combined 1 000MW.

The Government agreed to a Government Implementation Agreement (GIA) for all solar projects and under the framework, IPPs are guaranteed an economic tariff while the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe ensures that they can convert their earnings to foreign currency and be able to transfer it. The GIA also carries a power purchase agreement with the country’s power utility, ZESA.

Herald

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