Kudakwashe Mhundwa and Simbarashe Nyamavuvu
HARARE – Distributed Power Africa (DPA), a subsidiary of Econet wireless has begun work for the construction of two solar energy plants for the dairy and beverages sector, its chief executive has confirmed.
This comes as the energy firm last week commissioned a 466 kilowatt (KW) solar plant at Econet`s Willowvale Industrial complex, where the power will be used for own consumption by the diversified group.
Renewable energy is increasingly becoming popular with global financiers given its friendliness to the environment, compared to thermal energy.
Some giants in renewable energy from the United Arab Emirates, having begun showing interest in setting up 100MW wind and solar power plants in the country.
In an interview with this publication DPA chief executive officer Divyajeet Mahajan said the company are constructing solar plants for Kefalos Private Limited and Schweppes Zimbabwe (PVT) Limited with a power generation capacity of 600 KW and 1 Megawatt (MW).
“We are not only doing Econet we are doing for external customers as well they are two projects which are already under construction one is 600kw it’s a ground mount system and there is 1 MW roof top system which is also under construction.
“In the next two-three month we will also be commissioning these projects, these two projects are for Kefalos dairy farm and the other is for Schweppes,” he said
Mr Mahajan said the projects are being constructed at a cost of between $1 -$ 1,5 depending on weather it is a car port, roof top or ground mount solar plant.
Government is next month expected to launch renewable energy and biofuels energy policies which are aimed at increasing the country’s power sources.
IRENA, a global institution with 160 members as at last year, extended technical assistance to Zimbabwe, which was useful in evaluating the development cost and applicable tariffs for solar projects at 16 sites across the country.
The technical and financial appraisals by IRENA show that the capital cost of solar projects is now much lower than previously anticipated.
Tariffs for solar have also reached grid-parity, implying that the cost of solar power plants is now lower than that of conventional coal power plants.
Countries such as Germany, Chile and Egypt are now benefiting from solar electricity fed into the grid at less than 5c per kilowatt hour (kWh). This was achieved after the countries changed their procurement methods from unsolicited bids and renewable energy feed-in tariffs (REFIT) to renewable energy auctions.