Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
ENERGY and Power Development Minister Dr Samuel Undenge says the 100 megawatt Gwanda solar power plant project will take off “soon”, but would not give specific timelines, pending completion of financial closure.
The Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) signed a deal with Intratrek Zimbabwe in October 2015 to construct the solar plant at a total cost of $202 million.
Intratrek is owned by businessman Mr Wicknell Chivayo and his Chinese partners, Chint Electric. Last year, ZPC executives visited the Export-Import Bank of China to finalise funding discussion for the solar project.
Responding to concerns on why the investment was taking long to take off, Dr Undenge said the project was at pre-commencement stage, which involves feasibility studies, geo-technical surveys and topographical surveys to map out the soil conditions before it starts.
“Soil conditions have to be established before a power plant is set up so that when designs are made they actually address the terrain, soil and rock structures. And that is the stage where we are as far as the Gwanda solar project is concerned and of course the financial closure aspect has to be completed,” he said.
“Once completion of these is done, the real work (construction of the plant) starts and we hope the financial closure will be completed as soon as possible.”
Dr Undenge said once the project takes off, it was expected to take 18 months to complete. He said ZPC has already commissioned Shanghai Electric Power Design Institute (SEPD), a subsidiary of energy giant Power China, to do the feasibility study.
According to the SEPD feasibility study, Zimbabwe has total radiation of sunshine of between 2 500 and 4 000 hours per year.
It has also been established that the project is feasible at a tariff rate of 18 cents per kilowatt hour.