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Cement maker PPC to install 30MW solar plant at Colleen Bawn

CEMENT manufacturer Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC) says a tender process to install a 30 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) plant at Colleen Bawn in Zimbabwe has been finalised and approved by the board with work planned to begin this year.

PPC operates a clinker plant at Colleen Bawn in Gwanda in the southern part of the country, as well as a cement milling plant outside Bulawayo and a third in Harare.

Apart from South Africa and Zimbabwe, PPC also has units in Botswana, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda.

According to its climate change strategy report published recently, PPC said work on the 30MW solar plant would begin this year.

The company is also planning to set up solar plants across all its operations.

“At Colleen Bawn in Zimbabwe, the tender process to install a 30MW solar PV plant has been finalised and approved by the board with work planned to begin in FY2022,” the report reads in part.

Currently, Zimbabwe is in desperate need of power generation capacity and solar offers a cheap, scalable solution.

The power that is produced at the site, according to the company, will be divided equally to provide electricity to other PPC facilities and the other half will be fed into the Zimbabwean national electricity grid.

The plant, expected to take a year and a half to be constructed, will be one of Zimbabwe’s larger solar power plants.

The allocation of the tender for the supply of the solar by PPC reportedly came after 38 local, regional and international companies participated but PPC has chosen not to disclose the name of the company that was chosen.

PPC said renewable energy delivers a net-present saving relative to grid electricity and, if obtained through a power purchase agreement (PPA), whereby an independent power producer (IPP) builds and operates the generation capacity, there is no capital expenditure investment required of PPC.

The cement manufacturer said the on-site solar PV project at Slurry, Dwaalboom and De Hoek is currently in the implementation phase with an environmental impact assessment and financial closure evaluation underway.

It said the commercial operating date for this project is October to November 2022, by which point “we expect approximately 30 MW to be generated from solar power.”

“Rooftop solar installations for our Jupiter, Hercules, Mooiplaas and Laezonia sites are also being considered. These projects, once approved, will be operational in June 2022, by which point we expect approximately 2 MW to be generated from solar power,” it said.

PPC South Africa is exploring a PPA to contract an additional load of 20 MW solar and 8.4 MW wind power wheeled through the Eskom Grid. This would be just under 100 GWh per year and meet approximately 30% of the annual electrical requirements at Slurry, Dwaalboom, De Hoek and Riebeeck, it said.

In Rwanda, PPC Cimerwa installed a 50-kW solar PV plant based on a PPA and is exploring the possibility of increasing the capacity of the plant to 1 MW under a second PPA.

“The company employs local community members to conduct regular maintenance and upkeep of the plant. Cimerwa also installed 51 solar power units to power the geysers of houses in the local village during the year,” the report says.

“Energy efficiency will not deliver the step change needed to reach our net-zero emissions, but it remains an important contributing option that, due to the current financial benefits, will be leveraged as much as possible.”

“We have already taken various steps to implement electrical and thermal efficiency measures. Various strategic projects which will contribute to thermal and electrical energy savings are also underway and will be completed during FY2022.”

PPC said further efficiency improvements were possible up to the point at which sites are operating at their optimal design.

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