Zimbabwe wants to join Africa’s club of hydrogen producers to drive energy access

Zimbabwe wants to join Africa’s club of hydrogen producers to drive energy access and reduce emissions

Last week, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Hydrogène de France (HDF Energy) towards the development of Zimbabwe’s first high-powered green hydrogen power plant. The ceremony was witnessed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Victoria Falls. 

The $300m Middle Sabi Renewstable® plant will be located within the multi-technology Chipangayi Renewable Energy Technology Park (RETPark) in Zimbabwe’s Manicaland Province that borders Mozambique. It is expected to generate some 178 GWh every year, enough to meet the electricity needs of 220,000 Zimbabwean households. 

The agreement has created a framework for both companies to execute joint technical and administrative work and commercialise the electricity through a dedicated Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), HDF Energy said. 
Zimbabwe’s electricity mix is dominated by hydropower (57%) and coal (41%), according to IEA data. However, repeated droughts have affected the performance of the country’s hydroelectric dams in recent years and forced the country to increase its reliance on coal. Earlier this month, Zimbabwe commissioned a new 300 MW coal-fired unit to expand capacity at its flagship Hwange power plant and mitigate power cuts. 

The move could derail Zimbabwe’s target of reducing its greenhouse gas (GHGH) emissions by 40% by 2030. To meet its emissions reduction objectives while increasing energy access, Zimbabwe aims to commission 1,100 MW of renewable energy capacity by 2025 and 2,100 MW by 2030 under its National Renewable Energy Policy. 

The country’s clean energy agenda is currently gaining traction and attracting the interest of investors. In 2023, China Energy Engineering Corp. proposed the construction of a 1,000 MW floating solar PV plant on the Kariba dam at the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Zimbabwe’s mining companies are also increasingly embracing solar including Zimplats Holding, Karo Mining Holdings, and Caledonia Mining Corp. 

The addition of a hydrogen plant would help Zimbabwe further diversify its energy mix and position the country as a pathfinder in the development of the African hydrogen industry. 

Picture: Engr. John Diya, Acting Managing Director of ZETDC and Nicolas Lecomte, Director of HDF Energy for Southern and East Africa, signed the MoU in Zimbabwe in March 2023. 

Continue the conversation at Green Energy Africa Summit 2023 register your interest here.