Zimbabwe moves forward with 600MW floating solar plant on Lake Kariba

Staff Writer

In a bid to address chronic power shortages and boost its renewable energy portfolio, Zimbabwe’s cabinet has approved the development of a 600-megawatt (MW) floating solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant on Lake Kariba.

The announcement follows an unsolicited proposal from an energy company to invest US$600 to US$850 million in the project, seen as a critical step towards the country’s goal of becoming an upper-middle-income economy.

“Cabinet wishes to advise that a Grid Impact Assessment led to the approval of a 600MW floating solar photovoltaic power plant on Lake Kariba based on consideration for grid stability and the risk of concentration of generation at one power station location,” Information Minister Jenfan Muswere told journalists during a post-cabinet briefing.

He said the development of the plant will be phased to complement the Kariba South hydropower station.

The first phase of 150MW capacity is envisioned to be commissioned in 2025 while phase two of 300MW capacity and Phase three of 150MW capacity will be implemented in 2026 and 2027 respectively.

Muswere said a 25-year operating lease was signed and land survey was also completed in February 2024.

“The power generation licence for the energy company is being processed,” he said.

“Zimbabwe has abundant lakes and dams, which could be considered sites for future renewable energy investments and similar projects on these lakes and dams are fully supported given that the generation of power through water-mounted solar photovoltaic cells is 5–15% more efficient than similar projects on land.”

Zimbabwe currently imports heavily to meet its electricity needs, with daily imports ranging from zero to 500MW. The country aspires to generate over 5,000MW by 2030, necessitating significant investment in new power sources.

The Lake Kariba project is a significant step towards Zimbabwe’s energy independence and its commitment to clean energy sources.

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