Africa Moyo Deputy News Editor
FORMER Eskom chief executive officer Engineer Matshela Koko is pressing ahead with his company’s 100MW solar project in Gwanda, which is expected to be the envy of the continent upon completion.
Eng Koko, who is investing US$250 million in a massive solar farm, on Wednesday said he was bringing “cutting edge” technology to generate electricity in Zimbabwe.
“What we are busy with in Zimbabwe has not been done in Africa before. We bring the cutting edge of electricity generation to Gwanda,” said Eng Koko on his Twitter handle on Thursday.
“Once we are done, Zimbabwe will be the envy of the continent. Even South Africa will not compete. Siyaquba (we are working)!!!
“Today (Wednesday) I spent the day with the design team of Matshela Energy.
“The flexibility of dispatch scenarios for the Solar PV (photo voltaic) plant combined with advanced battery storage will provide Zimbabwe with improved energy security. This scenario prioritises the evening peak.”
The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) awarded Matshela Energy a licence to set up the solar power plant on July 17.
Its licence is valid for 25 years.
Once completed, the project is expected to become the largest solar venture in Zimbabwe.
Expectations are also that it will create up to 1 000 jobs.
Matshela Energy has resolved to ring-fence US$100 000 per annum for 20 years to put towards research and innovation in the field of advanced energy storage and renewable energy generation.
This is set to be done in partnership with a local university, which would be selected in partnership with the Ministry of Energy and Power Development.
The project can be expected to feed power into the national grid within 12 months.
The investment comes at a time when thermal and hydro-power generation is constrained as a result of aging generation equipment at Hwange and other small thermal power stations, coupled with low water levels in Lake Kariba.
This has resulted in the proliferation of solar energy projects, with Centragrid (Pvt) Limited in Nyabira already feeding 2,5MW into the grid after a technical commissioning recently.
Centragrid plans to increase its capacity to 100MW in the future.
Another company, Harava Solar Park in Bwoni Village, Seke, is also working on a 20MW solar project and is expected to start feeding power into the grid in December.
The company also wants to increase its capacity to 100MW going forward.
A number of other companies have already obtained solar power generating licences, in a move expected to minimise electricity shortages.