Deal on solar-for-water units signed in Zimbabwe

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According to a statement from The meeco Group, oursun Energy’s parent company, the deal will be centred around the Swiss company’s sun2flow solar water-pumping system. That system combines solar panels and water pumping and irrigation devices.

The system comes in fixed and mobile versions. Specifications for the fixed version are an installed capacity of up to 25 kWp capable of driving deep well pumps of up to 20 HP, module inclination according to location, and Suntech 200-240 Wp Polycrystalline modules or equivalent. Technical details for its mobile brethren are broadly similar, which has an installed capacity of 2100 Wp per trailer, extendible up to 10 kWp, and has inclination of up to fifty degrees. Energy storage is made possible with backup using lithium or dry GEL batteries.

Simbarashe Mhuriro, director of oursun Energy, said, “With this project and partnership, The meeco Group as a multinational player in the clean energy market wants to support the growth of small to medium scale agriculture businesses, provide energy to rural communities, and create as much local content as possible. To stimulate the local manufacturing industry most of our components for our installations will be produced locally.”

Mhuriro predicted that the company would reach a total energy capacity of 230MWp within four-to-five years, and that such a milestone would make it an important power producer in Zimbabwe and the surrounding area.

The company also alluded to further expansion outside of Zimbabwe by announcing that William Bain Holdings will also assemble the sun2flow mobile units for the fifteen countries of the Southern African Development Community. The power units and pumps for the venture will arrive pre-assembled by meeco India. The meeco Group is currently developing the sun2flow mobile trailer and is looking to gauge its potential in the market.

The meeco Group’s has been pushing into Zimbabwe through its subsidiary company oursun Energy for some time: in December, the development of a 10 MW grid-connected solar in the Harare and Melfort areas was announced. Investment for that project was estimated by The meeco Group at US$8 to 8.5 million.

Any long-term investment in Zimbabwe will have to take into account the country’s until-recently tumultuous economy. According to the CIA World Factbook, “Zimbabwe’s economy is growing despite continuing political uncertainty. Following a decade of contraction from 1998 to 2008, Zimbabwe’s economy recorded real growth of roughly 10% per year in 2010-11, before slowing in 2012-13 due poor harvests and low diamond revenues. The government of Zimbabwe faces a number of difficult economic problems, including infrastructure and regulatory deficiencies, ongoing indigenization pressure, policy uncertainty, a large external debt burden, and insufficient formal employment.”

Corruption is also a major issue in Zimbabwe, with the most recent Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index placing the country at 156 out of 175. The country also has, according to Human Rights Watch, a long history of civil and human rights abuses.