HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s state power transmission company has invited bids for the construction of 500 megawatts (MW) of solar power plants as part of a drive to increase its use of renewable energy and end power cuts.
The southern African nation since last year has endured cuts, known locally as load shedding, lasting up to 18 hours after a devastating drought reduced dam levels at its hydro plant while ageing thermal stations constantly break down.
Supplies have improved since the country entered a coronavirus lockdown at the end of March, forcing industry to close.
Zimbabwe also paid off arrears to South African power supplier Eskom, guaranteeing supplies of up to 400MW daily.
Zimbabwe is currently producing 987MW of electricity daily.
“The Zimbabwe Electricity and Distribution Company (ZETDC) is intending to contract 500MW of PV solar plants of varying capacities at different identified strategic locations,” the company said in a public notice.
ZETDC said solar power would help mitigate against climate change-induced risks and reduce imports, saving scarce foreign currency.
Zimbabwe’s largest hydro station Kariba has a capacity of 1,050MW but is only producing 600MW due to low water levels.