BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA
Government has so far licensed 80 independent power producers (IPPs) projects who could add a total of 7 000 megawatts to the national grid, more than three times the national requirement.
“At the moment, over 80 different projects have been licensed by (the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority) for power generation with a total capacity of over 7 000MW [megawatts],” Energy and Power Development minister Soda Zhemu said during a tour of Harava Solar Park in Seke recently.
“More than 80% of these licensed projects are on the renewable energy space, particularly solar projects.”
The country has been grappling with power shortages as it depends mainly on Hwange thermal and Kariba hydropower electric power stations.
Demand, however, is below 2 000MW due to lower demand and also low wastage after Zesa switched to a prepaid model.
IPPs are currently only feeding 135,8 megawatts into the national grid, about a decade since government started granting private players licences to produce electricity, according to a report released by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Energy and Power Development.
A number of solar projects have failed to take off in the country due to lack of funding and corruption.
Zhemu warned the IPPs awarded the licences to execute their projects to avoid having their licences revoked.
“These IPPs which are not demonstrating capacity to execute their projects have their licences revoked to avoid rent-seeking tendencies,” Zhemu said.
Meanwhile, engineers have completed Phase 1 at Harava Solar Park, which will see 20MW being fed into the national grid.
The Seke solar project has also provided employment to a number of youths in the surrounding community.
The project is the second one in the district following the erection of Dema diesel power plant near Murape Secondary School, which has, however, failed to kick off.