The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) says it will soon call for new tenders for solar licences after all individuals and companies that were awarded the rights 10 years ago have failed to work on approved projects.
The State-owned company hopes the new players to be engaged will be able to produce between 400MW and 500MW.
This was announced last Friday by ZESA’s systems development manager, Engineer Ikhupuleng Dube, while addressing various stakeholders in Kwekwe.
“Some individuals were given licences as far back as 2010 and they are yet to build solar plants. We are going for re-tendering of solar so that the process will be transparent and those awarded licences will complete the project,” said Dube.
He said it was critical for Zimbabwe to turn to solar energy as the hydro electricity from Kariba was proving to be unreliable due to recurrent droughts.
“With the climatic changes, which have resulted in droughts, we have realised that Zimbabwe and Zambia will be experiencing droughts for some time to come. Against that backdrop, we have decided to come up with sustainable solutions to the energy crises in our country,” said Dube.
Zimbabwe is currently experiencing serious power shortages which are stretching up to 18 hours a day.
“In the meantime, we are importing power from outside the country and those countries also have problems of their own. As a power utility for sustainability we want to commission solar plants, which will be realising about 400-500MW of power from the plants.
“We want to commission solar plants which will be harnessed during the day (and) we will be using solar extensively. Given climatic changes the little we are getting from Kariba will then be used during the night. In the afternoon let us harness solar,” he said.
Zimbabwe is reported to be sitting on 38 non-operational solar projects with a total capacity of 1280 megawatts (MW).
Among the companies that were awarded contracts by ZESA is Intratek Zimbabwe, a company owned by controversial businessman Wicknell Chivhayo, which was given a licence to construct the 100MW Gwanda solar plant. The tender was awarded in 2015.