Canadian business Caledonia Mining Corporation plc is seeking proposals for a 19.65 MW solar power plant and energy storage system it wants to build at its Blanket gold mine near Gwanda, in the province of Matabeleland South, Zimbabwe.
In the request for proposals document issued for the project, Caledonia said the plant owner will have to provide the mine with power under a 13-year contract and the mine operator will consider taking a stake in the project. The plant is expected to be deployed in three phases on 40 hectares next to the mine, with each stage limited to 6.55 MW of generation capacity. The engineering, procurement and construction services contract is expected to be awarded in the first quarter of next year with the power plant to be commissioned in the final quarter of 2020.
The storage facility will also form part of the tender, but not in the initial phase of deployment and no details were given about the intended scale or technology to be used in that part of the project.
Interested developers have until November 8 to pre-qualify for the tender.
The procurement marks the second large scale solar tender held in Zimbabwe of late. In September, the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe issued a request for proposal to find partners for the development and construction of seven solar parks with a combined generation capacity of 235 MW, plus two mini hydropower projects.
Zimbabwe’s government has recently returned to solar after several failed attempts to implement renewable energy plans. In mid-July, minister of energy and power development Fortune Chasi announced plans to review licenses for power generation projects and to move forward with a 100 MW tendered PV project whose realization has been delayed for years.
The nation is in desperate need of new power generation capacity and solar offers a cheap, scalable solution.