HARARE - China Africa Sunlight Energy Limited (CASE) says it is now considering building a 600 megawatt (MW) thermal power plant in the northern part of Zimbabwe from the initially planned 120 MW.
The Asian group, intending to invest approximately $2,1 billion in the southern African country’s energy sector, has since engaged the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) on their plans to build a bigger plant after concluding exploration activities in Gwayi.
“CASE is seeking to amend the licence to an increased generating capacity of 2x300MW,” said the company in a statement yesterday.
The application for amendment of the licence by CASE is done and is terms of sub-section (1) (b) of section 49 of the Electricity Act (Chapter 13: 19) of 2002.
CASE — a joint venture between Old Stone Investments of Zimbabwe and Shandong Taishan Sunlight — recently indicated plans to invest as much as $2,1 billion to develop coal mines and build a 2 100 MW coal fired power station in Zimbabwe.
The energy firm said it will start with capacity to produce 300 MW by mid-2015 and raise this to 600 MW by the end of that year.
CASE has spent $20 million on exploration, and was granted rights to look for coal and coal-bed methane in the area in October 2012.
The southern African nation has a huge power deficit, and imports 35 percent of its national requirements from its neighbours.
Due to lack of funds, and a general power deficit in southern Africa, the country experiences constraints with imported power, resulting in electricity rationing to consumers. Zimbabwe domestically generates around 1 200 MW, against a 2 100 MW demand.
The country has coal resources of 10 billion to 15 billion tonnes, according to government estimates.
CASE, which recently received a certificate to carry out a full Environmental Impact Assessment for the construction of a power generation plant, plans to sell some of its electricity to Zesa, the State-owned power-generation company.
Its coal exploration area, in Gwayi in the western Matabeleland region, has four billion tonnes of resources and CASE is conducting studies to measure how much gas is available, with the results to be known in three months.
“If they discover gas, the way we think they are going to, we want to export the gas overseas to India in partnership with Discovery Investments,” said Charles Mugari, CASE’s general manager.
Mugari noted that depending on the outcome of the gas study, the company wants to start a programme piloting methane gas for domestic gas in Hwange, also in Matabeleland, and extend this to Bulawayo, the second-biggest city, if successful.
“CASE is looking at the possibility of pumping gas to the port city of Beira in neighbouring Mozambique, using an idle pipeline that the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe once used to bring fuel into the country,” he said.