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CEC commissions maiden grid solar power plant

CEC’s newest exploit into the renewable energy space will deliver 1.9GWh of clean power a year anchored on transmission infrastructure comprising 1.2km of 11kV overhead line tapping from the existing CEC 11kV busbar at the Raven’s substation, a transformer station and switchgear.

The development comes as the country is emerging from a scarcity of energy experienced from a couple of seasons ago.

The insufficiency of power brought to the fore the urgency of developing additional energy capacity at national level, and to diversify both the sources of power and the locations of these sources and improve grid stability.

The country’s energy mix is predominantly hydro, and the majority of the country’s power plants are located in the southerly parts, far from the major load centres located mostly in northern geographies.

“Against that background, and indeed for all intents and purposes, a 1MW solar PV power plant in the heart of Kitwe city on the Copperbelt Province is sufficient to power some of CEC’s mining loads and up to a thousand households is worth noting,” notes the company.

The novelty of this project ought to be appreciated from various aspects. Other than increasing the country’s power generating capacity, diversifying the energy mix and enhancing environmental sustainability, the plant includes a human capacity development component in solar technology.

With the support of the German development agency, GiZ, a key component of this plant right from the start was to deliberately offer a solar development curriculum to students at the Copperbelt University including controlled access to the plant for learning and research purposes – a first for the institution – putting it on a path to developing the skills and knowledge that will prove necessary in the country’s bid to develop further solar energy opportunities.

Developed through a tripartite collaboration, the Riverside solar PV plant also speaks to the benefits that emerge from the pooling of resources and expertise focused on a common goal.

To this end, BayWa r.e. the German contractor engaged to put up the plant, took only three weeks to install and connect the 1MW photovoltaic plant and will stay on for one year to assist with its operation.

The company will play a valuable role in enabling the development of skills to maintain the plant and will continue to up-skill the power plant team on the commercial and technical operational management aspects.

BayWa r.e. will run a training programme for engineers, entrepreneurs and lecturers.

“The intention being that ultimately stakeholders in Zambia can set up similar projects independently in the future and drive the energy revolution in the country,” said CEC.

The 1MW plant is only the first step in the Company’s ambitions to develop solar power potential, with the intent being to take that to 50MW in the medium term.

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