ZERA okays solar license to RioZim

by Grace Chekai

The Public Private Partnerships in the Zimbabwe’s energy sector are starting to bear fruits following, the granting of a licence to RioZim by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA), to install, a combined 75 Megawatts solar plants at its four mines.

The four solar plants which are being constructed on a Construct, Own, Operate and Maintain (COOM) basis are Cam and Motor Solar (Private) Limited (30 Megawatts), Dalny Solar (Private) Limited (15 Megawatts) and Renco Solar (Private) Limited (15 Megawatts). Whilst Murowa Solar (Private) Limited will provide an additional 15 Megawatts.

The installation of the solar plants is in line with section 46 (6) of the Electricity Act (Chapter 13:19) of the generation license issued by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) that authorises companies to construct, own, operate and maintain the solar photovoltaic power plant.

The local communities surrounding these four solar plants are going to immensely benefit as surplus power will be channelled to residential areas.

Information in the possession this publication showed that the Cam and Motor Solar plant will benefit Cam and Motor Mine, Effiel flats in Kadoma.

In the same vein, Dalny Solar plant will benefit Dalny Mine and Chakari Community in Kadoma while, Renco Solar Plant will benefit Renco Mine and Nyajena communal lands in Masvingo.

Solar power from Murowa Solar plant will benefit Murowa mine and Mazvihwa communal lands in Zvishavane District.

All surplus power from these four solar plants will be channelled to the national grid.

Economist Terrence Chipwanya, said that the licensing of the mining sector by ZERA to install renewable power sources would lead to an upsurge of mineral production in the country which was being hampered by ZESA`s irregular power supplies.

“Solar energy is reliable and cheap as compared to hydro power. The installation of 75 Megawatts solar plants by RioZim is likely to improve production at the company’s mines as they will have uninterrupted power supply. This is good for the country as demand for power from the national grid will be eased,” said Chipwanya.

Chipwanya further said the installation of a combined 75 Megawatts solar plants by RioZim showed the company’s confidence with New Dispensation’s economic reform and it resonates with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s “Zimbabwe is Open for Business Mantra.”

Chipwanya further noted that since surplus energy from these four solar plants will be planted to the national grid, load shedding in the country will be eased and eventually averted.

On 20 March this year, President Mnangagwa launched the National Bio-Fuel Policy and the Renewable Energy Policy in the capital and highlighted, the need for increased investments in the energy sector to deliver on the growth and development of Energy Industry. He also urged successful implementation of renewable energy projects to aid in the revival of the economy.

 President Mnangagwa was quoted then saying the promotion of renewable energy, such as solar, was in line with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number seven which recognizes, the need for countries to have affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy.

Power challenges in the country are likely to be a thing of the past as other mining companies have followed in RioZim’s steps and applied for licenses to install solar plants at their sites.

These companies include Caledonia Mine (20 Megawatts), Prospect Resources (20 Megawatts), Karo Resources (300 Megawatts) and Implants (200 Megawatts).

Solar plants from RioZim, Caledonia Mine, Prospect Resources, Karo Resources and Implants are estimated to provide a combined 615 Megawatts and this is expected to ease the energy burden from the national grid.