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Zambia commissions Chinese-built solar plant

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-02-17 09:17

Photo taken on Feb 15, 2023 shows solar panels at a solar plant in Kitwe, Zambia. [Photo/Xinhua]

KITWE, Zambia - Zambia on Wednesday commissioned a solar plant for the production of solar energy as part of efforts to enhance the south African country's electricity generation capacity.

The Riverside Solar Plant in Kitwe town in the Copperbelt Province is a project of the Copperbelt Energy Corporation, a publicly listed firm that provides electricity to the country's mining industry.

The company, which initially commissioned its 1-MW project in 2018, signed an agreement with Chinese construction firm Sinohydro Corporation Limited for engineering and construction in November 2021 to increase the plant's power generating capacity to 34 MW with an annual energy output of 56.5 GWh.

The project involved the installation of more than 61,320 solar panels and the construction of two transmission lines. A total of 22 million U.S. dollars were invested in the expansion project.

Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema said during the commissioning of the plant that the investment was a big achievement toward the country's goal of ending power cuts, known locally as load shedding. According to him, the government intends to double the country's electricity generating capacity in order to support the needs of industries.

The Zambian president stressed that energy security was vital to the country because it drives industries and commended the company for complementing government efforts to boost electricity generation especially for providing clean or green energy.

London Mwafulilwa, the company's chairman, said the establishment of the pilot solar power project gave the company knowledge and experience to venture into expanding the project. While acknowledging that the plant was the company's first renewable project, the official said it was not the last as more renewable projects will be done.

It has been a valuable stepping stone, he said, adding that it has enabled the company staff to gain knowledge in developing and managing solar plants.

Peter Kapala, the minister of Energy, said the commissioning of the solar plant was a significant milestone in the country's energy sector. The government places great emphasis on the development of the energy sector because it was important to the country's economic growth, he said.

According to him, the government was committed to ensuring that the energy sector was tilted toward the supply of alternative energy sources, adding that the government will deliver affordable and clean energy through the implementation of an ambitious renewable energy investment plan.

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