RioZim plans to build 214 megawatt solar plant

THE country’s largest gold producer, RIOZIM, has applied to build solar projects with a combined capacity of 214 megawatts at its Cam & Motor, Renco, Dalny gold mines as well as its Murowa diamond operations.
RIOZIM’s planned solar projects are expected to meet 10 percent of Zimbabwe’s current peak power demand. In a public notice notifying stakeholders of the application for an electricity generation licence by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA), the authority stated that the firms intend to utilise the power generated for own consumption by the mine while the balance will be sold to Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC).
As power supply became erratic last year, Zimbabwe’s miners, among the country’s largest consumers of electricity, started to increase their investments in solar energy.
Caledonia Mining invited bidders to build a 20MW solar farm that will feed its Blanket Mine, stepping up plans to invest in renewable energy as an alternative to power utility ZESA.
In a notice, Caledonia said the solar project would be built on 40 hectares next to its mine and is to be completed in three phases. The contract is expected to be awarded in February this year with the power plant to be commissioned in the final quarter of 2020.
Blanket has already installed 18.4MW of diesel backup, but a move to solar will save costs, Caledonia says.
“Given the escalating cost of diesel and the problems related with obtaining a secured supply, a solar PV plant with integrated storage is proposed to mitigate the impact of Grid instability as well as to reduce the reliance on diesel power generation,” Caledonia says.
Other firms venturing into renewable energy include Econet Wireless which last year commissioned a 466KW solar power plant at its Willowvale industrial complex in Harare, the largest commercial and industrial carport and roof mount installation of its kind to be deployed in the country.
Last year ZERA revealed that it had processed 39 solar power projects that have the capacity to generate 1,151.87 MW, as the country moves towards renewable energy to increase capacity.