The Sunday News
Rutendo Nyeve, Sunday News Reporter
CEMENT manufacturing company, PPC Zimbabwe has completed the financial closure towards the US$43 million solar project that is expected to reduce the energy cost as well as contribute towards its de-cabornisation journey.
This was revealed by PPC Zimbabwe Managing Director Mr Kelibone Masiyane on Wednesday last week during a fact-finding visit by the Parliamentary portfolio committee on Industry and Commerce. Financial Closure entails the execution of all the Financing Agreements required for a particular project and fulfillment of conditions, precedents and waiver, if any, for the initial draw down of funds there under.
President Mnangagwa, represented by the Minister of Industry and Commerce Dr Sekai Nzenza presided over a ground breaking ceremony in April at the PPC Bulawayo plant to kick start the project. The project is set to be carried out on two farms which will produce 30 megawatts. With the Bulawayo plant requiring only 17 megawatts, the remaining 13 megawatts is set to be fed into the national grid.
A total of 20 000 solar panels will be installed at a farm in Umguza just next to the Bulawayo plant while 40 000 panels will be put up in Colleen Bawn, Gwanda with all the panels being the sun tracking type. Mr Masiyane said they had completed financial closure paving way for work to commence on the ground.
“We are spending roughly about US$43 million for two solar plants, one in Colleen Bawn and the other here in Bulawayo. We have thus concluded the financial closure in the last two weeks so now that it is done you must start seeing some activity on the ground,” said Mr Masiyane.
The solar plant is expected to cut energy costs which Mr Masiyane told the legislators topped the production cost list.
“In a study of the cement sector in Africa, the World Bank estimated that production cost of cement is 20 to 30 percent energy, that is power and fuel or coal.
Cement production is one of the most energy intensive processes. Most of this energy is used as coal for firing the kiln to produce clinker and electricity to grind raw materials and clinker, when making cement.
“While our coal prices are competitive when compared to neighbouring countries, the landing cost of coal is affected by very high transportation costs.
In some countries, cement producers are adopting vertical integration into coal mining or energy supply in order to reduce energy costs. However, our solar project is expected to cut our energy costs,” said Mr Masiyane. He further said the project was in line with their de-cabornisation agenda which will reduce their emissions.
“We are investing in solar, green energy which is part of our de-carbonisation journey. As a cement producer you are aware that we are notorious for releasing a lot of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
If you look at annual release, we contribute about eight percent of global emissions as cement producers,” said Mr Masiyane. — Follow on Twitter @nyeve14