The 25 MW Nyabira solar farm is slated to be commissioned today by President Mnangagwa as Zimbabwe’s largest solar station and a sign that the Second Republic is taking solar energy seriously.
Nyabira station upgrade from 2.5 MW, used to establish project viability, comes from multi-million dollar joint venture between the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) and a solar company local, Centragrid (Private) Limited.
The project, on a farm about 40 km from Harare along the Chinhoyi Road, is part of NSSA’s impact investing strategy to enable economic development by investing in strategic areas such as renewable energy. , agricultural value chain and infrastructure development, among others.
NSSA’s deputy director of marketing and communications, Mr. Tendai Mutseyekwa, yesterday confirmed the commissioning and that the president is expected to lead the ceremony.
In a previous statement, Mr. Mutseyekwa said the solar project between NSSA and Centragrid is part of their strategy to increase government efforts to improve social protection for Zimbabweans by providing them with better access to electricity.
“Other than that, it makes business sense for the NSSA as demand for energy currently exceeds supply, so this investment will pay dividends to the authority, to the benefit of its members, which include retirees and other vulnerable groups.
“In essence, we’re talking about a smart partnership between NSSA and Centragrid to deliver clean energy to surrounding communities and the nation as a whole.
“As the custodian of the national savings, the NSSA is obligated to invest the proceeds in such a way as to grow the fund to ensure its sustainability,” Mr. Mutseyekwa said.
A solar station has the investment costs associated with the panels, but the operating costs are very low since the fuel is free.
This makes it similar to hydropower and different from thermal power plants where the capital costs are lower, but coal has to be purchased every day.
NSSA’s investment strategy aims to stimulate economic development, job creation and protection.
Zimbabwe can easily use a lot of solar energy since Zesa can store energy. The Kariba South Power Plant is oversized for available water. It has been extended to give Zesa the flexibility to cope with peak power demand, when all eight generators can run, but to see them reduced to one or two generators when demand is low, thus respecting the rationing of the ‘water.
What the solar stations entering the grid mean is that Zesa can scale down in bright sunshine, storing more of her daily water ration, and thus running more generators in Kariba South at d other times. Indeed, Lake Kariba coupled with an oversized power plant is the largest storage battery in the world.
The commissioning comes after the United Nations Climate Change Summit (COP26) held in Glasgow, Scotland, from October 31 to November 12, challenged countries to move away from fossil fuels to profit from renewable energies.
President Mnangagwa was among 140 heads of state and government and climate lobbyists who discussed issues of environmental protection through the promotion of clean energy, among other initiatives.
Countries in Africa and Latin America have rejected calls to immediately ban the use of coal, saying they need time and financial support to phase out coal.
Rich countries then pledged US $ 100 billion per year to finance poor countries’ migration to clean energy.
The Nyabira project started generating 2.5 MW, which can light around 700 high-density homes, in August 2019. The 10-fold increase in production means 7,000 high-density homes can be supplied.