Nyabira IPP ready to feed 25MW into national grid
Mashonaland West Bureau
ZIMBABWE’s determined target of accessing 600 megawatts of power from local independent power producers is on track with a private player in Mashonaland West ready to produce 25MW before the end of this year.
Independent Power Producers (IPP) are expected to produce at least 600 megawatts of power feeding into the power grid by the year 2030.
Centragrid Pvt Ltd is pushing to feed 25 megawatts into the national grid by end of this year, a move that has been welcomed by the Government and brought relief to communities particularly those from the vicinity of the project in Nyabira.
Sitting on a 120-hectares in Zvimba’s Nyabira area in Mashonaland West the company has utilised 50ha under Phases 1 and 2 where, expansion from an already working 2,5-megawatt to 25 megawatts is currently underway.
The Special Advisor to the President on the Implementation of Government Programmes and Projects, Dr Jorum Gumbo, accompanied by Mashonaland West Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Marian Chombo, toured the multi-million-dollar plant located 35km west of Harare last week to have an appreciation of the current expansion drive works.
The company’s plans to increase generation capacity to 25 megawatts by October 2021 were met with various challenges but, the Centragrid officials assured the Government that it pushes to have more power added into the grid so as to help the country chip away at a huge electricity deficit that has affected industries while keeping most households under load shedding.
China’s Sinohydro built the first and currently working unit producing 2,5MW.
The company through Sinohydro is building seven more units of 2,5MW each with self-tilting photovoltaic solar plants to adjust according to the direction of sunlight for constant power production.
Centragrid technical services manager, Mr Anesu Marunga was optimistic and assured the Government that the project will be successfully completed next month before commissioning early next year.
“We already have all the equipment in place as some is at Mutare Border Post and the transformer is in Durban waiting to be transported. Very soon we should be having 90 percent of the total equipment that we need to deliver the project.
“We are at 65 percent and we have done all the civil works. What is left if put everything in place so that we start the connections,” he said during the tour.
Speaking after the tour, Dr Gumbo said the implementation of Centragrid solar plant resonated well with the country’s development strategy blueprint which identified the availability of reliable power supply as a basic requirement for all citizens.
“Under the National Development Strategy 1 period, Government is therefore placing priority on the development of reliable and reasonably priced power. It is against this background that government welcomes the implementation of the Centragrid solar power plant project,” he said.
The locally-owned business which faced various economic hurdles looked inward for financial partnership with the National Social Security Authority (NSAA) and Old Mutual Zimbabwe jointly funding the implementation of the important project.
The 2,5MW production currently being fed onto the grid has helped Zimbabwe save on power imports and the government, Dr Gumbo said, was going to ensure that it plugs import bill by year 2030 in relation to power purchases from neighbouring nations.
Zimbabwe imports power from South Africa and Mozambique whenever its generation is depressed.
“I am pleased to note that under Phase 1, Centragrid solar power plant has delivered electricity to the National Grid which translates to a saving of approximately US$1,6 million in power imports from neighbouring countries,” he added.
The coming in on board of Centragrid is a plus to the province’s contribution towards clean power production as it adds to at least 1 000MW of hydro-power produced at Kariba Dam.
In addition, the Zim-China Wanjin Agricultural Development company has successfully installed a 1.14-megawatt solar project at its Sisi Farm in Zvimba North constituency with excess power being fed on the national grid as well.
Dr Gumbo also noted that Centragrid’s contribution, reflected that Zimbabwe was not isolated from the changing energy landscape.
“The expectation of the Government is that IPPs should play a bigger role by contributing significantly to power generation in the country. I would like to urge responsible authorities to speed up the implementation of licensed solar projects for the country to benefit,” he added.
Mashonaland West Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Marian Chombo said the project which stands as a jewel for the province’s achievements, was progressing well despite Zimbabwe being under illegal sanctions imposed on her.
“Regardless of the sanctions imposed on us as a nation, this project has portrayed capability that lie within our province and are yet to be exploited. Centragrid Solar Project serves is an example of what the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa as exhibited in his mantra that ‘Nyika Inovakwa NeVene Vayo’. Indeed, we are building our province and the country through electricity generation from this project,” she said.
She challenged other districts in the province to attract investors that also invest in clean energy so as to grow the provincial Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and achieve a target of 600mw to be produced by independent producers by 2030.
As production works at the plant progress, many youths from Nyabira and surrounding areas are smiling.
The project has created at least 172 jobs for youths and they laud the government for allowing independent players to invest in power production.
One youth, Tafadzwa Mahachi said through the manual work, he is able to save towards furthering his education as he eyes to be employed full time by the company.
He has been working for Centragrid for the past three years as a general hand.
For Ward 26 councillor, Mr Regina Gore, the project is presenting more opportunities for the Nyabira community.
“We are glad that the company has agreed to connect us direct from their main power line before it is fed onto the main grid so that we are not affected by load shedding.
She also challenged women in her Ward to apply for menial jobs currently on offer at the project. The project has presented the Zvimba Rural District Council with an opportunity to boost its GDP.
Zvimba’s chief executive officer, Mr Enias Chidhakwa said: “The solar project is going to raise our GDP especially now that economies are being proffered on the side of local economic development. For Zvimba, this is a big plus in relation to economic development.”
A Zvimba businessman and Zanu PF central committee member, Cde Francis Mukwangwariwa said the move by the company to direct connect the Nyabira community from the power generated at the plant spoke to the corporate social responsibility of the company which has benefitted from vast tracts of land that could have benefited people through agricultural activities.
Apart from the Centragrid Solar Project, the province is also expected to score another big one between Nyabira and Great Dyke mountain at Mapinga where a New Mine to Industrial Energy Park is expecting to take shape.
The park is expected to be Africa’s biggest Lithium salt plant to be set in Zimbabwe with revelations for a smart city transformation in the pipeline, will have a total cost of US$13 billion by 2026.
Setting up of the plant will encompass a 600megawatt thermal power plants, a coking plant, a nickel-chromium alloy smelter, and a nickel sulphate plant.
Lithium has become this generation highest paying mineral and is being sought after by developed countries that now focus on green and renewable energy.
Eagle Canyon International Group Limited and Pacific Goal Investments, the two Chinese investors that have started planning works for the construction of a mine-to-energy industrial park have hinted that over a thousand jobs for the locals for the locals will be created.