The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) has processed 39 solar power projects that have capacity to generate up 1 151,87MW, as the country moves towards renewable energy to contain shortages.
The projects are expected to require an investment of over US$2,3 billion.
In e-mailed responses, Zera acting chief executive officer Mr Eddington Mazambani told The Herald of the approved solar projects, six of which are already operational, while others are at various levels of consummation.
"The authority has so far received and processed a total of 39 solar energy projects, with six of them now functional, two (are) under construction and 31 (are) still to be developed," said Mr Mazambani.
Three of the projects are at concept or pre-feasibility stage, and have capacity to generate 111MW.
Twenty-two of the solar projects are at feasibility and technical studies level and have capacity to generate 885,1 MW, while three projects with capacity to generate 70MW are at feasibility or proof of bankability stage.
Another three projects are at funding stage and can generate up to 53,3MW when concluded, while two projects are at construction stage. They have capacity to feed 25MW into the national grid when completed. The six operational solar projects are delivering 7,47MW into the grid.
Said Mr Mazambani; "The total investment for all solar energy projects is US$2 327 528 108."
The interest in investing in solar projects in Zimbabwe comes at a time when rolling power cuts have become the order of the day due to obsolete equipment at thermal power plants and low water levels in Kariba Dam.
Cabinet has since approved the implementation of a large-scale programme to promote the importation, local production of solar equipment and the use of solar power as an alternative energy source. In this regard, special incentives shall be provided through duty waivers on imported solar equipment, while it shall be mandatory for all new construction projects to be solar-powered.
A number of companies such as Matshela Energy, Harava Solar and Centragrid (Private) Limited are working on huge solar projects to alleviate power shortages which have hit domestic and commercial users hard. Centragrid, which is based in Nyabira, about 40km from central Harare, has started feeding 2,5MW into the national grid.
The 2,5MW can light up to 1 200 households. Harava Solar expects to commission its 20MW project in December this year. Energy and Power Development Minister Advocate Fortune Chasi has indicated that airports across the country will soon be powered by solar to reduce pressure on grid electricity.