Business / Industries

Chinese companies take lead in developing clean power supply in Zimbabwe

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-12-01 10:59

HARARE - As the world's most developed countries and emerging economies are locked in heated talks to cut emission, the trend of developing clean energy has crept into Africa, a continent that is yet to industrialize and has huge energy gaps.

In Zimbabwe, it might be Chinese companies which are leading the trend. In October, three Chinese companies won the deals to build Zimbabwe's first large-scale solar power stations, feeding 300 MW electricity to the strained national grid currently struggling at less than 1,000 MW against peak demand of 2,200 MW.

Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) said for the three deals, it signed an agreement with Intratrek Zimbabwe which will work with Chinese partner CHINT Electric to construct a $202 million plant in Gwanda, Matabeleland South Province. The second agreement was signed with Number Seventeen Metallurgical China for the construction of another $163 million plant in Munyati, Midlands Province, and the third with communications giant ZTE for the $197 million Insukamini project in Matabeleland North Province.

Energy sources have lauded the deals saying that the cleaner renewable solar technology will augment supplies from the aged Hwange Thermal Power Station which is constantly breaking down and at the Kariba Hydro Power Station which is currently suffering from low water levels due to drought in the region.

A spokesperson for ZPC's parent company ZESA Holdings said recently that the power utility supported the development of solar power generation.

"Solar power plants are quicker to construct and are quite suitable for phased construction. As the technology matures, prices are expected to further drop so that it can come at an affordable tariff," the spokesperson said.

However, he said, one of the disadvantages was that solar photovoltaic did not provide energy at all times, peaking in the afternoon and becoming unavailable at night, that additional generating capacity must be kept available to stabilize the grid.

Photovoltaics (PV) is a method of converting solar energy into electricity.

China has also been considering Africa for growth in its PV sector following anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations by the United States and European countries.

Africa's energy deficit and sunny climate offer favorable conditions for the growth of the solar power industry in China.

Director of the special initiatives division in the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Fatima Denton told African delegates at a regional climate change conference that Africa had become increasingly vulnerable to climate change and there was need for the continent to ensure energy security through accelerated investment in renewable energy.

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