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    Monday, 3 December 2018

    $16m Floating solar energy for Lake Mutirikwi


    NKULUMANI MLAMBO

    MASVINGO- Droege Energy from Munich in Germany is set to invest $16m for the construction of a 10 megawatt floating solar plant at Lake Mutirikwi in Masvingo by the end of the first quarter of next year.
    Floating solar panels (also known as Floating Photovoltaic (FPV) is the latest technology on renewable energy which was commercialised in 2014 and has been in use in countries like Malawi, Japan, Germany, France, Latin America and Italy according to Carlos Giron the strategic key account manager for Droege Energy.
    “As a Province we are quite excited with the coming of the Germany investors who are investing in energy which will go a long way in alleviating power shortages in the country as it will feed into the national grid. This is in line with the devolution which has been gazetted by the Cabinet and as a Province we will be able to account for our resources, we are endowed with a lot of water and this project has come at the right time.
    The surrounding irrigation schemes will also benefit from the power to be generated from this plant for irrigation purposes.
    “I also understand that the electricity to be generated here is less expensive compared to the one we are using at the moment. The project will also create over 150 jobs for the locals and it will also increase our GDP as a Province because the floaters will be locally manufactured,” said the Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs, Ezra Chadzamira on the shores of Lake Mutirikwi.
    Giron said the project will be funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and some partners from Germany while most of the material to construct the floaters will be sourced from Masvingo.
    He    said    the ground breaking ceremony has been slated for February and the whole project is expected to be complete by April next year.
    Droege Energy is also partnering with a local consultancy firm, Amotec Consultants (ACFS) based in Harare which was represented by Walter Bakare, Joy Mashenjere and Beniah Lazalo.
    Gustavo Droege the managing director for Droege Energy said they have built a 50MW plant in Makani and Chitenje, Lake Malawi and Zimbabwe would be the second country in Africa to have such technology.
    Droege said the floaters will be anchored in the water and on the shore such that when the water level goes down the panels also follow the water just like a boat.
    Lazalo told The Mirror that the solar panels have a life span of 30 years and are more efficient than those found on flat ground or roof tops.
    “The floating solar panels are more efficient than those on the ground because water has a cooling effect on the panels as a result one panel produces 2kilowatts as compared to an average of 1.7 kilowatts for the one on the ground. Power output efficiency is between 68% and 78%.
    “The panels on the ground are affected by the heat which comes from the ground thereby reducing power output efficiency yet those floating are cooled by the water,” said Lazalo.
    The floating panels do not take up any land as compared to the ones on the ground for example a 1MW plant needs about 2 hectares of land while the FPV require less than a hectare in the water.
    They also help in containing the algae bloom as well as reduce water evaporation as they cover the surface.
    Droege said they intent to invest $130m in the country with ten projects being lined up and after finishing Lake Mutirikwi they will go to Tugwi Mukosi for a bigger plant.
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