An independent power producer(IPP), Invest Solar Africa, is constructing a 70 megawatts(MW) solar plant in Seke district, few kilometres outside Chitungwiza.
The plant, estimated to cost US$25m, is expected to be completed before year-end.
Speaking during the tour of the plant by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Energy and Power on Thursday, Invest Solar chief executive officer, Ainos Ngadya, said: “We aim to produce 70 MW by year- end. We are going to be doing it in phases,” Ngadya said.
He, however, said the company was struggling to secure adequate foreign currency, something which might delay the completion of the project.
He appealed to government to rescue the situation.
“We have manage to secure some funding to start the project.We secured part funding for the project. The total cost is around US$25m.”
He added:“We have appealed to government to help us to get the foreign currency as the project will benefit the country in alleviating the power shortages as we intent to make it a pilot before moving into other provinces building other solar power stations.”
Energy and Power Development secretary, Gloria Magombo said:”We want to be switching off Kariba South Hydroelectric Power Plant during the day and rely on solar power. This project has the capacity to provide electricity that fully cover Chitungwiza. This is what we want to see happening in other provinces as well.”
The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority has licenced more than 30 IPPs with a capacity to generate more than 5 000MW.
However, very few projects have taken off the ground and fears are that it might take longer than expected because of the hefty capital outlays required.
Government has been hoping that IPPs will complement State-owed power utility ZESA, which is currently struggling to meet national demand at peak period estimated at 1 800MW.
ZESA is generating less than 1000MW. To cover for the short fall, the power utility is importing power from regional power utilities especially Eskom of South Africa and Hydro Cahora Bassa of Mozambique.
Zimbabwe ,however, is facing a debilitating foreign currency crisis which has ZESA struggling to clear debt arrears to the two regional power utilities. This has resulted in Eskom and HCB supplying limited electricity to Zimbabwe. On several occasions they threatened to cut off supplies to Zimbabwe.