The Riverside Solar PV Plant was recently inaugurated in the presence of Zambian Head of State Hakainde Hichilema. The plant is located in the Kitwe district of the Copperbelt province and covers an area of 30 hectares. With a capacity of 33 MWp, the plant is equipped with 61,300 panels, connected to 150 solar inverters. The project is now in its operational phase and has also enabled the construction of 6 transformer stations and 4 km of transmission line.
The annual output of the Riverside solar PV plant is estimated at 54.9 GWh, enough to power 10,000 Zambian homes. It took 10 months to build and employed over 800 people. The project is being implemented by Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC), a company listed on the Lusaka Stock Exchange, which specialises in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity in Zambia and Nigeria.
A $22 Million Investment
“In 2018, we developed our pilot solar PV plant, which came with many other intentions and benefits, including learning for our staff and students at Copperbelt University. Despite its size, it became the 1st grid-connected solar plant in Zambia. Today, we have grown it from 1 MWp to 34 MWp, having gleaned so much knowledge and expertise in solar plant development and management,” said London Mwafulilwa, CEC’s chairman of the board (PCA) at the inauguration ceremony.
The plant required an investment of $22 million, all of which was funded by CEC. The company intends to continue investing in renewable energy in Zambia. According to London Mwafulilwa, CEC will commission a new solar power plant before the end of 2023. The 64 MWp facility is being built in Itimpi, a town in the Kitwe district.
“At the same time, we have an interest in developing 138 MW of wind power with our partners Upepo Zambia, also here in the Copperbelt in Masaiti,” explains the CEC CEO. The company wants to develop an installed capacity of 200 MW of renewable energy by 2024. In this way, CEC wants to contribute to the diversification of Zambia’s electricity mix, which is 81.5% dependent on dams for the production of its electricity in a context marked by the drop in rainfall, which is affecting the operation of hydroelectric facilities.