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Solar energy: The Zambian solar power project is expected to reach completion by 2017

In Zambia, the Kumi Kumi Zuba (KKZ) 100MW solar power project, developed by Intelligent Energy Zambia Limited (IEZL) in 2012 is nearing the construction phase of the project.

IEZL chairman Richman Njovu, reports that US multinational General Electric, and South Africa-based Basil Read Energy are driving the project to reach completion by 2017. The southern African power project is estimated to cost $257 million (ZAR3 billion) and will stretch across 200 hectares of land.

Njovu, recently told the Zambia Daily Mail that the KKZ solar power project is the largest single private investment in the Southern Province of Zambia.

Partnerships

South African-based engineering company, Rhino Engineering, is responsible for providing all the engineering works, and the solar panels will be supplied and installed by international solar firm Belectric.

Once the power project reaches completion, state-owned power utility Zesco will take over operation under an offtake agreement and will feed the solar generated power into the national electricity grid.

According to Njovu, the country is failing to meet increasing electricity demand due to ailing infrastructures.

Njovu commented: “With these considerations in mind, we set up IEZL to mitigate the impact of challenges experienced in the Zambian energy sector, thereby assisting government in achieving its objective as a priority sector project.”

Njovu said that the Energy Regulation Board and the Zambia Development Agency have confirmed full government support and facilitation of the power project.

Preserving wildlife and community

Preserving the wildlife in the project's location has been included in the construction design: “We will have solar panels erected on high poles covering around 200 hectares of land leaving bare land below. This means that we are going to have grass growing beneath the panels and the role of wild animals is to graze the grass and shrubs growing around the area,” Njovu said.

The solar power project is expected to create 600 direct jobs during the construction phase with 300 securing fixed positions once the plant reaches commercial operation.

IEZL has plans to build a high school and a clinic as part of its social investment in addition to supplying 5MW of the generated solar power to electrify the surrounding community, the Zambia Daily Mail reported.

In addition, Njovu said there are plans to build a solar panel manufacturing facility in Livingston to stimulate a local competitive market.

Financial input

The local media reported that, according to Njovu, the World Bank and the European Union (EU) have offered financial support for additional power projects in the future.

Njovu added that IEZL will also have to approve the tariff rates and if necessary appoint another power utility from the region to enter into a power purchase agreement should an agreement not be reached with parastatal Zesco.