New Zimbabwe.com

Ambitious solar project to end load-shedding set for Glenview

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By Leopold Munhende


LICENSED Independent Power Producer (IPP) Prevail Group International (PGI) is next month set to launch an ambitious solar project meant to reduce pressure on Zimbabwe’s strained national grid and ultimately end ZESA’s never ending load-shedding policy.

The project, named the Presidential Solar Scheme will see PGI renting and installing solar panels on roofs of houses in Glenview where its pilot project will be launched, for a yet to be decided amount.

Power generated from the solar panels will then be sold to ZESA which in turn has agreed in principle to suspend load shedding in all areas that will be part of PGI’s initiative.

600 houses are being targeted in the pilot project that will cost US$1 million and generate no less than three megawatts. April 1 has been set as the tentative launch date.

Speaking to NewZimbabwe.com, company Chairperson Paul Tungwarara said they had copied the idea from Scotland and Mauritius, further arguing that making use of roofs across all urban and rural areas would save land that might be considered for solar farms.

“We are launching the presidential Solar Scheme on April 1 this year with a target of renting roofs of at least 600 homes in Harare’s Glenview area,” said Tungwarara.

“The idea is to avoid wasting 600 hectares by building a solar farm when we can pay and make use of so many roofs in urban or even rural areas.

“We have agreed with ZESA that every home that registers for this project will not face load shedding as it will now be taking an active role in adding onto the national grid.

“We will finance everything including monthly payments that will ensure they pay bills to ZESA, residents simply have to register with the scheme.”

Zimbabwe, much like most of Southern Africa, has been reeling from a shortage of electricity that has forced ZESA to ration supply to residential and industrial areas, most times for more than eight hours.

This, according to businesses in Harare’s Workington area who talked to NewZimbabwe.com at its height last year, has heavily affected their operations. Some of them were forced to lay off workers.

Despite minimal improvements recently, little investment in the sector and delayed operation by some IPPs almost saw the country going dark last year.

Added Tungwarara: “Solar is the way to go. We cannot be continuously complaining of load-shedding when an obvious solution is in front of us, consider the amount of sunlight Zimbabwe has.

“Experts at PGI have analysed similar projects in the UK and Mauritius with positive reviews for replication in Zimbabwe. If this is done, we can assure an end to ZESA’s load-shedding within three years.”

PGI spearheaded the President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Presidential Borehole Scheme last year.