Econet Wireless Zimbabwe has launched the country’s first industrial solar power plant at its Willowvale complex in Harare.
Engineered and installed by Distributed Power Africa, a subsidiary of Econet, the solar plant has a generation capacity of 466 KW and will operate under a 25 year Independent Power Producer (IPP) License agreement issued by the national regulator, Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA)
The solar power plant has 1 435 panels, and is expected to contribute 780 MwH to the national grid per annum.
“The commissioning of our Willowvale solar power plant demonstrates our focus to ensure that all our offices nationwide transition to clean and reliable energy as rapidly as possible,” Econet CEO, Douglas Mboweni said during the launch.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development – Dr Gloria Magumbo said the commissioning of the plant marks a historic event on the renewable energy sector in the country as it signals the beginning of large scale solar adoption in the commercial and industrial space.
She added that the Zimbabwean government is working on reducing barriers for IPPs as a means to encourage private sector participation in the country’s energy sector.
ZERA has issued 30 IPPs over the last five years but only eight of are currently operational.
Zimbabwe has liberalized the energy industry but participation by the private sector remains subdued owing to capital constraints.
Reliable and clean energy alternatives offers a window of opportunity for companies to utilize at a time business in the country is being hampered by constant power cuts.
Analysts say adopting alternative power solutions like solar energy has the potential to save millions of dollars in importation of electricity from neighbouring countries.
Zimbabwe imports electricity to the tune of US$ 5 million per week from South Africa’s Eskom and HCB from Mozambique.