The Zimbabwean subsidiary of South African financial services group Old Mutual is commissioning a $2.5 million solar power plant at its Mutual Gardens headquarters in Harare. The renewable energy installation will also help alleviate the power supply problems Zimbabwe currently faces.
Zimbabwe is experiencing severe power shortages due to low generation capacity, resulting in power outages lasting up to 12 hours a day in the country. With a power generation capacity of 641 kWp, the new $2.5 million solar power plant will produce enough electricity to meet the entire energy needs of Old Mutual Zimbabwe’s headquarters. For Samuel Matsekete, the CEO of Old Mutual Zimbabwe, the project will accelerate the supply of renewable energy to their properties.
Old Mutual Zimbabwe is a financial company owned by Old Mutual Plc, an insurance company based in South Africa. Committed to solar energy projects, its Zimbabwe subsidiary has worked with independent power generation company Oxygen Energy to install rooftop solar systems on buildings, increasing the amount of energy saved to 300 MW four years ago. The company has also invested in several renewable energy projects supplying electricity to Zimbabwe’s national grid, including the 5 MWp Cross Mabale solar plant, the largest recently commissioned in Zimbabwe.
Reducing the energy deficit
Zimbabwe currently imports electricity from neighboring South Africa and Mozambique to cover its power generation capacity deficit. Zimbabwe’s state-owned power generation company (ZESA) distributes some 1,600 MW of electricity out of the 2,000 MW needed to meet national demand.
With an installed capacity of 1,626 MW, for example, the Kariba Dam in the north, which supplies most of the country’s electricity, produces only 600 MW. Over the past decade, the authorities have often increased the cost of electricity to meet the rising prices of raw materials used for power generation, including coal and diesel. In May 2020, tenders were launched in the country for the construction of solar power plants, for a total capacity of 500 MWp.