Schweppes commissions 500kW solar plant in Beitbridge
Schweppes Zimbabwe Limited has commissioned a 500kW ground-mounted solar plant as it embraces the use of renewable energy to boost production at its Beitbridge juice plant.
The company’s managing director, Mr Charles Msipa, said they were now finalising an agreement with the Zimbabwe Electricity and Distribution Company (ZETDC) so that they may feed power into the national grid.
He was speaking during an interview on the sidelines of a tour of citrus projects in Beitbridge by Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Anxious Masuka last Friday.
“We have commissioned a ground mounted solar plant at the Beitbridge juice plant site that is able to supply 500 kilowatts of energy. It is adequate to support this plant’s requirements,” said Mr Msipa.
“This plant runs from June to September, during the citrus season and offseason and the solar plant will be able to feed the power into the national electricity grid.
“It has been fully commissioned and running. What is outstanding is to finalise net metering with the ZETDC), so that we can get credit for the power that we supply into the main grid”.
He said the company was also working on setting up a citrus plantation at Zhovhe Dam so that it can be able supply throughput to the Beitbridge juice plant.
Currently, the local citrus farmers are able to supply 40 percent of the required 40 000 tonnes of citrus, which the plant can process annually.
Mr Msipa said so far they had completed the feasibility studies and surveys on the ground.
“We have also completed an environmental impact assessment (EIA) and we are now at a stage where we are seeking a formal lease agreement with the Government after which, we can proceed to fund-raise and get the project started. Our target is to start the project towards the end of this year,” he said.
The official said the company was also exploring ways of expanding its line of products.
He said the Beitbridge plant was designed to process mainly citrus fruits and that they will have to make changes so that they may be able to process some other types of fruits including the indigenous types.
Mr Msipa said it was very critical for them to use the plant up to full capacity.
“We are always looking for ways that can utilise the capacity of this plant.
You will note that in April, every year, we process grapefruit and lemons, but by far, the biggest fruits processed are oranges, but we are always alive to new opportunities,” he said.
The official added that as part of their diversification plans, they also had another plant for Norton, which processes tomatoes and guavas into various by-products.
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