Zimbabwe is processing the licence for a multi-million dollar floating photovoltaic power plant on Lake Kariba, a Cabinet Minister has said.

The Hwange Thermal Power Station is currently the country’s primary electricity generator, contributing significantly to the national grid demands. The power station generated 1 696.4gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity that accounted for 75.4 percent of the country’s total electricity generated during the first quarter of this year.

Briefing the media on Tuesday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Dr Jenfan Muswere said the development of the Kariba plant follows the Cabinet approval of a 600MW floating solar Photovoltaic power plant on the giant man-made lake.

A Grid Impact Assessment leading to the approval of the 600MW floating solar photovoltaic power plant on Lake Kariba was approved based on the consideration for grid stability and the risk of concentration of generation at one power station location.

This followed December 2023’s unsolicited bid that government received from an energy company proposing to invest US$600 to US$850 million to develop an 800MW floating solar photovoltaic power plant on Lake Kariba, in Mashonaland West province.

This complementary and contributory renewable energy project into the power generation system is aligned with the National Renewable Energy Policy of 2019.

“The development of the plant will be phased to complement the Kariba South hydropower station. The first phase of 150MW capacity is envisioned to be commissioned in 2025. Phase two of 300MW capacity and Phase three of 150MW capacity will be implemented in 2026 and 2027 respectively,” said Dr Muswere. “A 25-year operating lease was signed and land survey was also completed in February 2024. The power generation licence for the energy company is being processed.”

Zimbabwe has abundant lakes and dams, which could be considered sites for future renewable energy investments and similar projects on these lakes and dams are fully supported given that the generation of power through water-mounted solar photovoltaic cells is 5–15 percent more efficient than similar projects on land.

The country’s current power imports range from 0 to 500MW daily, costing the country a lot of money; he said adding that the country aspires to become an upper-middle-income society which requires increased and affordable electricity to power the envisioned accelerated development in all sectors of the economy.

“The demand forecast for electricity is over 5 000MW by 2030, and the development of new and additional generation capacity by both the public and private sectors is very critical and important,” said Dr Muswere.

Source: https://www.sundaynews.co.zw/600mw-floating-photovoltaic-power-plant-for-lake-kariba-minister-muswere/