PADENGA Holdings Limited says it intends to double its solar farm output capacity, as it mulls to become energy self-sufficient in some parts of its operations on the back of crippling national power outages.
In its half-year to June 2023 financials, Padenga said it had concluded the installation of a phase three solar array at the northern farms to bring the solar plant operating capacity to a total of 1,2 Megawatts with commissioning works underway for completion by the end of October 2023.
Zimbabwe continues to face energy supply challenges albeit untapped potential in the renewable energy segment.
The country’s major power plants have an installed capacity of over 2500 megawatts but generation capacity has lately been subdued due to a plethora of challenges.
Due to a combination of factors such as climate change, ageing infrastructure and equipment breakdowns, actual electricity generation is often much lower than the stated generation capacity, resulting in power cuts and load shedding.
However, the local demand for electricity continues to surge, stemming from a growing population, rapid rural-to-urban migration, and nascent economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
New mining projects from resources including lithium, gold and coal have also spurred the local demand for power.
In an interview, Padenga Holdings Limited’s chief financial officer, Oliver Kamundimu, hinted at his company’s intentions to double solar power output capacity in the long run.
“We have quite invested into solar, on the mainland Kariba Farm (Nyanyana) where we currently have about 1,2 megawatts installed capacity, we are also going to invest further to probably 2,4 megawatts, so that we can get off the grid and be totally energy self-sufficient.
“We also currently have a capacity of about 400 kilowatts at the Ume Farm and we would like to increase that,” said Kamundimu.
To compensate for the random and prolonged power outages experienced early this year, companies have had to rely on alternative sources of energy mainly diesel generators which are naturally expensive thus pushing up operating costs.
In that regard, however, Padenga says it will significantly tame its operating costs if the company successfully sets up renewable energy plants, solar in particular.
“Through these establishments, we will reduce our diesel consumption from approximately 60 000 litres a month to 15 000 litres maximum, which is knocking off 75 percent of our diesel consumption.”
The industry has lately been investing heavily in alternative power sources as companies move to ameliorate the effects of prolonged load-shedding, a challenge that has grown to afflict industry’s operational efficiency, impacting the overall quality of service and bloating the cost-of-service provision.
This all comes as the Government is rekindling efforts to co-opt wind energy into the country’s energy mix as it continues to devise mechanisms to contain the enduring power deficit and anticipated power demand.
Also referred to as wind power, wind energy is the use of wind turbines to generate electricity that is fed into main grids or to isolated, and off-grid locations with a much smaller impact on the environment compared to fossil fuels.
This is a popular, sustainable, renewable energy source across the world that provides steadier energy and the local energy regulator once hinted at wind resource measurement in the middle veld from South to North-Eastern parts of the country.