Schweppes Zimbabwe Limited has commissioned a US$2 million one-megawatt solar generating plant at the Willowvale beverage production facility.

The project becomes the biggest rooftop solar power generation plant in Sub-saharan Africa, excluding South Africa.

Addressing stakeholders at the commissioning of the plant, Schweppes Zimbabwe Managing Director, Charles Msipa, said the project took five months and will play an important role in the provision of constant power in the wake of power challenges.

“In the wake of power shortages, Schweppes partnered with Distributed Power Africa (DPA), a renewable energy company that engineers and constructs solar plants for customers under an agreement that Schweppes will be paying monthly installments for the duration of the 15-year contract,” he said.
Mr Msipa said the plant will reduce annual carbon emission by 1.2 million kilograms.

“Apart from the carbon reduction, the solar plant will reduce our electricity demand from the national grid. We are expecting to generate a daily total of 1MW against our daily maximum demand of 1.5MW. As a result, we are reducing our power demand from the national grid by 67 percent,” he added.

Minister of Energy and Power Development, Advocate Fortune Chasi, said it is incumbent upon companies to utilise their rooftops to ensure they move away from the national grid.

“The Southern African region is experiencing increasing power demand to an extent that the regional power pool, South African Power Pool (SAPP) is struggling to match demand and supply. Zimbabwe plays an important role in integrating the various national grids of SADC countries. With an excess power generation capacity, Zimbabwe will be able to meet her own domestic requirements and will have a strong business case of becoming a net exporter of power to neighboring countries. What we are seeing here is part of the vision we have to be self-sufficient in electricity and also export power in the medium to long term basis,” he said.

Advocate Chasi added that it is critical to continue supplying power to local industries as it drives local production capacity, boosts employment and empowers the economy.

“Energy is a key enabler for the whole spectrum of our economy. Growth of the economy and increased industrial productivity is hinged around the availability of energy. Given the current supply constraints we face in this country, my ministry calls upon every Zimbabwean, every resident, and every organisation to conserve energy as much as possible.

“My Ministry is crafting the Energy Efficiency Policy, which seeks to drive a culture of efficient use of energy and to set standards for efficient equipment in the industry and all other sectors, including the domestic sector. Efficient use of energy can create a virtual power plant.”

Minister of Industry and Commerce, Dr Sekai Nzenza said innovation and partnerships will increase productivity within the economy.

“It is not a secret, that we have an energy crisis, not a secret that our production in industry is below expectations, however, today we are celebrating, as a ministry the key enabler which is a partnership with industry and partnership within the private sector. Energy is a key enabler also to ensuring a productive sector, what we are seeing here between DPA and Schweppes is excellent example of innovation which is required in Zmbabwe right now to be productive,” she said.

A number of companies are installing solar power plants at their premises as a way of ensuring constant power supply following a huge power deficit that the country is facing at the moment.
Power shortages have affected industrial capacity utilisation within productive sectors which is believed to be hovering around 30 percent. – ZBC