US$65m solar station gets green light

Victor Maphosa Mashonaland East Bureau

CONSTRUCTION of the 50MW Marondera Solar Station at a cost of US$65 million starts next month after the contractor, De Green Rhino Energy, got their land lease and an independent generator licence from Government.

Already, equipment required for the station is in the country and will be transported to the site in Marondera next week.

The station starts with 50MW in the first phase, but the second phase sees an extra 100MW.

Upon completion of the whole project, about 110 gigawatt hours of energy, 110 million of the units householders buy, will be fed into the national grid annually.

In an interview, De Green Rhino co-director Mr Joachim Baurmgatner said he was happy to be contributing to the development of Zimbabwe through provision of electricity, particularly now when the entire nation is facing power challenges.

“First and foremost, we are thankful to the Government for allowing us to establish this plant in Marondera. There is abundant sunlight in that area and we are ready to generate energy from it. So we are investing US$65 million into the project and construction of the plant will commence in a few weeks from now and this year, the first phase of the project, which will see 50 megawatts produced, will be complete. The second phase will see the addition of 100MW to make an installed capacity of 150MW.

“We are going to employ some locals especially from Marondera and surrounding areas during the construction phase.

“And obviously the industry in Marondera is going to benefit from uninterrupted power supply. This is good for the economy at large and we are happy to be contributing to building the economy of Zimbabwe,” he said.

Zimbabwe aims to generate 1 100MW from renewable energy by 2025 and 2 100MW by 2030.

Through the National Renewable Energy Policy, Government will promote independent grid operators who want to contribute power to the national grid and to their clients, and will also speed up investment by the independent power producers, with their main focus on solar projects across the country.

Announcing the standardised Government Implementation Agreement (GIA) for all solar projects, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube recently said the major key enabler in realising sustained economic growth is stable, sustainable, reliable and affordable electricity supply.

Solar power is ideal for the independents, since the main cost is the initial investment, with running costs very low since there are no fuel costs, sunlight being free, and just maintenance costs.

Solar stations can also be expanded easily in small stages, so the initial investment does not have to be in the billions of dollars.

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