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Econet Launches 466KW Willowvale Solar Power Plant

Telecoms giant Econet Wireless Zimbabwe on Wednesday launched the first industrial solar plant in the country at its Willowvale complex in Harare, in a move aimed at fully embracing clean and renewable energy.

The power plant is projected to generate 466KW and will operate under a 25 year Independent Power Producer (IPP) License, one of the few issued by the energy and power regulator in Zimbabwe for self consumption . Econet expects to provide power for its internal operations and base stations from solar energy.

The solar plant was engineered and designed by Distributed Power Africa (DPA). It has a total of 1435 panels installed at carports and the rooftop. The plant will generate an estimated 780MWH of energy per annum, and it comes complete with a real-time power monitoring system. It is one of a dozen completed DPA solar projects in Zimbabwe, with more at the project planning stages.

DPA, which currently has a 100MW pipeline for deployment across a number of sectors within Zimbabwe, will this year complete sizeable projects for customers in the manufacturing, hospitality and education sectors. 

Under the IPP Licence, Econet Willowvale will generate and supply power for self-consumption and at peak the plant will cater for nearly 45 percent of the business’s electricity needs. 

Speaking at the launch, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe CEO, Douglas Mboweni said: “Our organisation launched a Green campaign in 2018 which has seen the company investing in alternative renewable energies starting with six of our own business premises.

“The commissioning of our Willowvale solar power plant demonstrates our focus to ensure that all our offices nationwide transition to clean and reliable energy as rapidly as possible.”

Econet Bulawayo offices had also gone Green, and work was at an advanced stage at Econet’s major offices  countrywide, including Mutare, Gweru and Masvingo.

Also present during the launch was the Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Energy and Power Development, Dr Gloria Magumbo who had this to say: “The commissioning of this plant marks a historic event in the renewable energy sector in the country as it signals the beginning of large scale solar adoption in the commercial and industrial space.”

DPA Zimbabwe CEO Mr Divyajeet Mahajan said the adoption of clean solar energy was on the rise in Zimbabwe. 

“With new technology, increased expertise and our viable financing solutions, the adoption of solar energy has increased significantly, and as Zimbabwe is gearing itself towards global competitiveness energy remains a critical pillar in our economic transformation.  In the global agenda, Zimbabwe seeks to achieve a 33% reduction in emissions by 2030 and the Willowvale installation will result in a marked reduction of its carbon footprint, by 285,000 kg per annum,” said Mr Mahajan.

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