Varun mulls 2,5MW rooftop solar system Schweppes Zimbabwe installed a one-megawatt solar system at its factory to solve the problem of power outages.

Business Reporter

Distributed Power Africa (DPA), a business unit of Cassava Technologies has signed an agreement with Varun Beverages Zimbabwe to install a 2,5 megawatts rooftop solar system at Varun’s manufacturing plant in Harare under a 25-year lease agreement.

With a forecasted annual energy production of 4,1 gigawatts, the system will be installed at Varun’s Simon Mazorodze bottling plant in Harare and will be the largest roof-mounted solar system installed in Zimbabwe to date, and one of the largest in the southern African region, DPA and Varum Beverages said in a joint statement on Thursday.

Varum joins several Zimbabwean corporates switching to solar energy in light of recurrent power cuts and the global drive towards adopting clean energy to combat global warming.

The beverages maker, the licensed bottler of PepsiCo products in Zimbabwe, will benefit from significant savings on the costs of grid and diesel backup power, business continuity during power outages and a reduced carbon footprint, the joint statement said.

Chief executive of Varun Beverages Zimbabwe Mr Vijay Bahl said: “We are pleased to partner with DPA on this milestone project. Implementation of the solar-powered solution will effectively reduce our energy costs, enable us to manange consistent power supply and further pass the benefit of affordable Pepsi Products to Zimbabwe consumers.

“We are expecting a saving of approximately 2,500 tons of carbon emissions annually.”

DPA Zimbabwe chief executive Mr Divyajeet Mahajan said his company was committed to helping its customers by providing fully integrated solutions to cut their energy costs and meet their commitments to protect the environment.  “We believe this should inspire other energy-intensive sectors to join the growing movement towards sustainable energy and shift to more efficient and environmentally friendly power solutions like solar,” he said.

With the system that DPA – the leading supplier of distributed renewable energy solutions in Africa – is installing at Varun, the beverages company can efficiently run its operations and feed excess power back to the national grid while saving over 25 000 trees annually. Some of the corporates that have invested in solar include Schweppes Zimbabwe, Blanket Mine, PPC, Nhimbe Fresh and Old Mutual.

Failure by ZESA to invest in grid extension infrastructure and generation expansion has led to people and businesses investing in off-grid, particularly solar. In addition, the power utility is also failing to connect new customers due to viability challenges, forcing people to install household solar systems. Several new urban communities are not connected and many households have resorted to solar systems for heating and lighting.

In 2019, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), a unit of Zesa Holdings introduced the net metering programme, a scheme where households and businesses generating solar energy on their premises can feed excess power into the ZETDC network through a grid-tied inverter.

During the first half of the year, the Government granted prescribed asset status to projects worth nearly US$100 million, with 83 percent (US$83 million) being solar projects. Companies whose projects were granted the prescribed asset status are Zororo PA, US$45 million, Centragrid, US$29,5 million and Equinox, US$9 million.  

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