The Sable Solar Energy (SSE) project is a 50 MW solar PV project currently being developed by Tatanga
Energy and its
partner, Masawara Limited, through a special purpose company - Sable Solar Energy (Private) Limited.
The project is being developed on land close to Sable Chemical Industries Limited’s facility at Sherwood, approximately 20 km outside of the city of Kwekwe in the Midlands Province of Zimbabwe. The project has been designed as a grid-connected independent power project (IPP) and has secured a power generation license from the Zimbabwe Electricity Regulatory Authority (ZERA).
The plant will improve Zimbabwe’s electricity supply and, critically, lay the foundation for the development of a 400 MW solar park in the same area. The project is expected to come online in 2021.
SSE is a 50 MW grid-connected solar PV power plant, which will be built on land close to Sable Chemical Industries Limited’s facility at Sherwood, approximately 20 km outside of the city of Kwekwe in the Midlands Province of Zimbabwe. The project will be constructed on a 100 ha plot of land and will comprise approximately 190,000 polycrystalline photovoltaic modules (panels) with single axis tracking, designed for maximum efficiency. The electricity generated from the project will be sold to ZETDC under a long-term power purchase agreement.
The project is being developed by Sable Solar Energy (Private) Limited, a special purpose vehicle established by Tatanga Energy and Masawara to develop, finance, construct, own and operate the Sable Solar Energy power plant. SSE is incorporated in Zimbabwe and holds the power generation license (awarded by ZERA) for the project.
The project site was selected for several reasons. The land around the Sable Chemicals facility sits within an area of high solar irradiance, which is important for the efficiency of the project. Moreover, there is sufficient land within the Sable Chemicals’ land bank to accommodate both the Sable Solar Energy project and the planned 400 MW Sable Solar Park, which Tatanga Energy and Masawara intend to develop in phases over the coming years. The site itself also benefits from access to existing infrastructure, including road and rail access (which will facilitate transportation of equipment and materials during construction), transmission grid connections (both at the Sable Chemicals’ facility and the nearby Sherwood substation), and utility connections.
The project is currently under development. SSE secured a power generation license from ZERA in March 2019 and has commenced negotiations with ZETDC in respect of a long-term power purchase agreement. SSE has also engaged potential equity investors and other financiers regarding the project's financing. SSE is expected to come online in 2021.
Solar PV refers to solar photovoltaic technology, which converts sunlight (solar radiation) into direct current electricity by using semiconductors. When the sun hits the semiconductor within the PV cell, electrons are freed and form an electric current. Solar PV technology is generally employed through panels containing multiple PV cells (e.g., solar panels). PV cells are typically connected to each other and mounted on a frame called a module. Multiple modules can be wired together to form an array, which can be scaled up or down to produce the amount of power needed.
It is intended that electricity generated from the project will be sold to ZETDC under a long-term power purchase agreement. Subject to ongoing discussions with ZETDC, SSE is also open to exploring potential power offtake arrangements with industrial customers, including in the mining sector, considering the proximity of the plant to such operations.
The project site is located close to an existing substation within the Sable Chemicals’ facility, as well as the Sherwood sub-station, which is within a 5 km radius. The Sherwood substation is at the heart of the Southern Africa transmission network and has sufficient capacity to handle evacuation of electricity generated from the project.
The project is envisaged to create up to 500 temporary jobs during the construction period and up to 30 permanent jobs during the operational phase.
The project is being developed on a traditional non-recourse finance basis, with equity provided by SSE’s shareholders, and debt to be provided by commercial banks and development finance institutions. SSE is currently exploring potential financing options with several local and international investors and financing institutions with the aim of securing the most cost-effective financing terms.
In line with good international industry practice and statutory requirements for environmental
Zimbabwe, SSE will procure a full Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for the project.
An initial ESIA Prospectus, highlighting the project’s expected environmental and social impacts,
was prepared in conjunction with the generation license application. These impacts will
be fully dimensioned in the full ESIA study. The full ESIA study will comply with all relevant
international and local environmental requirements, including:
The project will be the largest grid-connected solar PV plant in Zimbabwe when completed. The project will not only help to reduce Zimbabwe’s existing power supply deficit, but will also reduce the country's greenhouse gas emmissions. The project will also serve as a proof of concept for the planned 400 MW solar park, which Tatanga Energy, Sable Chemicals and Masawara intend to develop adjacent to the project in the future. The solar park may offer the opportunity to install new and alternative generation/storage options, including battery storage, as well as the latest solar technologies. These projects will firmly establish the viability of solar energy in Zimbabwe and will contribute to the move towards the development of more efficient, cleaner and lower-cost renewable energy generation, as seen in neighboring markets of South Africa and Zambia.