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PPC launches US$38m solar plants in Matabeleland

Cement producer, Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC) Limited will install two major solar farms on the outskirts of Bulawayo and in Collen Bawn worth US$38 million to power the company’s operations and reduce the effects of climate change.

Partnering with Central West, a local company, the investment will become the first in the construction sector to invest in a large-scale solar plant.

Speaking during the groundbreaking ceremony, PPC Head of Supply Chain and Strategic Projects, Dr Marvellas Sibanda said the initiative is one of the critical interventions which follow commitments made by PPC last year in November to reduce the negative impact of climate change on the environment.

Dr Sibanda said the power supply challenges in the country disrupt their operations and in certain cases damage their equipment.

“We invited bidders we could work with and we received over 30 bids from the world over, after the 30 vigorous processes were done and we ended up choosing to work with a local partner ACT, they also partnered with Sino-hydro from China who has done quite a number of electricity-generating projects. With these two partners, they will build two solar farms, one here in Bulawayo and another one in Gwanda, and these two solar farms will cost about US$38 million and will operate this solar on an arrangement to process over 20 years,” said Dr. Sibanda.

He said the plant in Bulawayo will generate 10 megawatts and over 20 000 panels will be installed and these panels will be tracking the sun, “they won’t be stationary like the other ones we are used to.”

“In Colleen Bawn, we will generate 20 megawatts and we will have over 40 000 panels, again they will also be tracking the sun,” said Dr Sibanda.

“This is a modern technology which is very efficient to minimize the land that is required to generate power, when we install these two solar farms we will improve the power quality throughout the size where we make cement, this will enable us to operate more fluently, it will also enable us to use more capacity of our factories and meet  the demand as a country’s requirement.”

“These plants were sized deliberately to be more than what is required, in Bulawayo we require five Megawatts but we are installing 10, so the other five will go to the grid, at Coleen- Bawn we require 13 megawatts but we are installing 20, the balance will go to the grid,” said Dr Sibanda.

Giving the keynote address on behalf of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Minister of Industry and Commerce, Dr Sekai Nzenza said the investment dovetails with the strategies outlined in the National Development Strategy (NDS1) with regards to increasing energy power supply through broadening the energy mix by promoting independent power producers.

“Such energy projects complement Government’s efforts towards climate change mitigation and also adaptation and as well as enhancing the sustainability of Zimbabwe’s energy sector,” said Minister Nzenza.

“I am also informed that the two solar farms project will help meet the company’s power requirements of 17 megawatts with the excess power of 13 megawatts being fed to the national grid, I want to commend PPC Zimbabwe for partnering with Central West, the local company in the implementation of this strategic project.”

She also urged other companies and industries to put in place deliberate measures and targets to boost the consumption of renewable energy towards a thriving economy that positively impacts the environment and a clean energy future.

Minister Nzenza added that the Government will continue to provide incentives for entry into the renewable and energy sector as well as enhance transparency in the issuance of licenses to power producers in order to guarantee the provision of diversified energy products and services in Zimbabwe.

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