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End to Zimbabwe power shortages in sight

by Staff reporter
23 Jul 2021 at 08:42hrs | Views
ZIMBABWE'S drive to permanently end power shortages is well on course after completion of a new thermal power plant in Hwange that is expected to feed 50MW to the national grid by October this year.

Also under construction in the same district is a solar power plant which is ready to go online with 5MW in a fortnight, as Government begins to realise fruits of working with independent power producers (IPPs).

Construction work on the thermal plant being implemented by a Chinese company Zimbabwe Zhongxin Electrical Energy (ZZEE) about 10km west of Hwange town is 100 percent complete, while work on the substation is 99 percent, waiting for arrival of isolator equipment which is set to be dispatched from China in the next few weeks. Some equipment for the 800kv high voltage line is now in Johannesburg, South Africa enroute to Hwange.

The first 25MW will be fed into the grid in September and the other half the following month in October. About 80km south east of Hwange is also another IPP, Solgas solar plant, whose first phase will see 5MW being fed into the national grid soon, with 10MW more expected in the second stage to be commenced shortly.

ZZEE plans to rollout two 135MW plants in the second phase starting early next year while the third phase which is expected to be completed in 2025, will result in construction of two plants, each with a capacity of 300MW and fed to the national grid as the company works in partnership with the Zimbabwe Electricity Distribution Company (ZETDC).

On the other hand, Solgas plans to establish solar power plants in each province, a development that is expected to not only ease power shortages but help reduce electricity imports and save foreign currency.

Energy and Power Development Minister Soda Zhemu toured the two projects yesterday and commended IPPs for complementing Government efforts to provide efficient energy as well as improve livelihoods, with communities around set to benefit through employment, electricity access and other income generating initiatives. While the ZZEE project will be the first privately owned thermal plant in the country, the Solgas initiative will be the first to be wholly locally funded as it is a partnership with Old Mutual.

"In terms of the mechanical plant we are 100 percent done and what is outstanding is the substation and isolator which is at 99 percent," said ZZEE general manager Mr Shiwei Wang.

Energy Minister Mr Soda Zhemu tours ZZEE power plant in Hwange yesterday He said the plant will start producing and feeding 25MW to the grid in September while the other 25MW will be rolled out in October. Designs for the next plant to be located just behind the first plant under the second phase have been approved in China and construction is expected to start early next year.

The plant will produce 270MW and will have a separate power line. The third phase will begin thereafter and will give 600MW by 2025. ZZEE is unleashing modern thermal power technology, with the whole project occupying a relatively small piece of land compared to existing power plants by ZETDC. The cooling tower is a small structure, which can be literally dwarfed by the one at Hwange Power Station and Mr Wang said it consists of installed rubber fans, a cooling system technology which ZEDTC is understudying with the hope of adopting in future.

There is a computerised control room from where the plant will be monitored. About 50 locals and 90 Chinese artisans are employed at the plant. At Solgas, the company's chief executive Mr Kilston Kamba said they are committed to helping Government realise its goal to provide efficient and reliable energy, with more solar plants in the pipeline.

The company was established in 2015.

"We are grateful to Government for empowering young people and we are committed as IPPs. We tried to get investors outside the country but we were not happy with the conditions hence we looked locally with the help of Finance and Economic Development Minister (Professor Mthuli Ncube) and we got Old Mutual who are coming in as a funder and partner," he said.

Hundreds of solar panels have already been mounted on a 9ha piece of land waiting for commissioning, while applications have been made for the next phase of 10MW. Mr Kamba said they want to establish similar plants in all provinces.

Minister Zhemu commended the two projects and reiterated Government support for private sector partnerships.

"We are happy about developments happening here and we are very much expectant of commissioning. This will be the first thermal plant as the existing ones are owned by Government. Let's work closely with ZETDC so that all our equipment is compliant with their requirements," he said with reference to ZZEE.

The ZZEE substation which is under construction To Solgas, Minister Zhemu said: "You have demonstrated that you didn't acquire a licence for speculative purposes but to contribute to ending the crisis we have as a nation. Getting funding locally is testimony of favourable policies we have and this is going to open way for more projects and speaks volumes of what can be done by local people to bring solution to our problems."

Early this month, President Mnangagwa directed the Ministry of Energy and Power Development to come up with measures to end load shedding within the next two years, riding on the several interventions and support extended to the power utility by the Government, particularly the Hwange Power Station Expanded Project launched two years ago.

Source - chronicle

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