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BCC in 100MW solar power joint ventures

by Staff reporter
10 Jun 2022 at 07:53hrs | Views
A PROPOSED 50 megawatt solar farm joint venture between the Bulawayo City Council and Williams Engineering at Ncema Dam in Esigodini has been given a nod while another 50MW private undertaking at Westgate has been approved by the local authority.

Electricity to be generated from the two projects is expected to be directed to the national grid and augment energy generated from other national projects.

Over the past couple of years there has been a growing interest by businesses and private homes in investing in solar projects in Zimbabwe.

Cabinet has already approved the implementation of a large-scale programme to promote the importation, local production of solar equipment and the use of solar power as an alternative energy source.

In January this year, the Bulawayo City Council resolved to enter into a partnership with Williams Engineering for the establishment of a 50MW solar farm at Ncema Dam area.

According to the latest council monthly report, the municipality has identified 100 hectares, which is considered adequate for the establishment of a 50MW solar project.

The land forms part of the council's 25 percent equity.

Key stakeholders, Environmental Management Agency, Zimbabwe National Water Authority and Umzingwane Rural District Council have also approved the move as the stand identified falls within the jurisdiction of the local authority.

"The Zimbabwe National Water Authority has no objections to the proposal provided the developed area is kept grassed to minimise erosion.

"As one of the stakeholders of the catchment, we hope Bulawayo City Council will implement this as exemplary project on protecting the environment through renewable energy development," reads part of the report.

However, in the initial council resolution, it had raised skepticism saying "Williams Engineering should take responsibility to fund project preparation activities including feasibility studies, design and EIA.

"They are the project promoters and it should be their responsibility to prove that the project is bankable," reads the report.

"The current proposal to have Bulawayo City Council foot the bill is exploitative as Williams will eventually use the feasibility studies funded by council to raise funds for project implementation from investors.

"They should show their commitment and confidence by outlaying resources upfront."

It added that the council should only cede the land at financial closure otherwise the land will be tied to a non-existent project for a long time.

Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Dube said the local authority stands to benefit from the venture.

"The electricity would be transmitted to the national grid and necessary offsets made accordingly with Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority," he said.

Meanwhile, Parvalue Energy (Pvt) Ltd, which intends to set up a 50 MW solar photovoltaic power plant at Westgate has been granted a developmental permit.

The proposed solar projects come at a time when the Government is encouraging the use of alternative energy.

Through the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera), the Government has licensed more than 100 independent power producers to generate clean energy such as gas, solar and hydro-electricity.

This is also in keeping with the global trends on the need to curb pollution and global warming through investment in environmental friendly power projects.

However, a few small projects are operational and only producing little at a time the country is experiencing a serious electricity deficit.

The service gap has resulted in continued power cuts, which industry leaders partly blame for frustrating production amid costly imports from regional producers, which drain scarce forex resources from the economy.

Source - The Chronicle
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