Columbus Mabika Herald Reporter
Government will continually come up with conditions and policies that attract independent power producers (IPPs), as part of efforts to ease power shortages.
Speaking during a tour of Harava Solar Park in Seke by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Energy and Power Development yesterday, Secretary for Energy and Power Development, Engineer Gloria Magombo said the Government was taking IPPs seriously, as energy remained a critical component in the country’s quest to develop, modernise and re-industrialise.
“The current power shortages being experienced in the country could have been averted had the IPPs been taken seriously in the past,” she said.
“As Government, we are putting in place polices that are favourable to organisations that have capacity to build power stations in the country.
“As the continent and the world at large is advocating and advancing towards renewable clean energy, we should not be left behind. We will work to ensure that more space is opened for power generating stations by independent players.”
Committee chairperson Mr Joel Gabuza hailed the progress made at Harava Solar Park.
“As Parliament, we are very impressed by the commitment made by Harava Solar Park,” he said. “Had it not been for challenges with sourcing foreign currency, they would be producing power that could be making a difference in the power supply in the country.”
Mr Gabuza rapped other IPPs that have been sitting on their licences for many years without developing their plans.
“I call upon other IPPs to take a leaf from Harava,” he said.
“Many of them were licenced before Harava, yet they have been overtaken. How many more years do they need to start showing us signs of commitment?
“They have been sitting on the projects for years, yet they have the green light to commence power generation.”
Chief Seke, Mr Stanley Chimanikire, in whose area of jurisdiction the Harava Park lies, said the investment by the company was a show of commitment to the development of the country.
“These men and women who initiated this park are our own kids who went abroad, acquired knowledge and decided to come back and invest in their own back yard,” he said. “Now, their investment is contributing to the development of the country, 90 percent of their workforce are locals. A few months down the line they will be feeding electricity onto the national grid.”
Harava Solar Park was incorporated in 2017.
Last year, it was licensed to build and maintain a 20-megawatt station that would feed the national grid.
Chief executive Mr Ainos Ngadya said they could be feeding 20 megawatts onto the Dema grid had it not been for challenges with foreign currency.
“Our initial target was to commission or reach mechanical completion before December last year, but it was not feasible largely due to shortages of foreign currency,” he said.
“What I can confirm is that we have sufficient local funding from more than 10 pension funds that are keen to support us.”
Mr Ngadya said 90 percent of equipment needed to be imported, and as such they needed to convert the Zimbabwe dollars they have into foreign currency.
He said the park will start supplying power onto the grid by September, adding that plans were afoot to expand the station to the second phase so that it can produce 70 megawatts generation commenced.
The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) has issued at least 77 licences since 2010 for stations ranging from small solar plants to giant thermal plants, but only 18 licence holders have invested or are now ready to invest in solar plants.