Nhimbe Fresh, one of Zimbabwe’s leading horticulture companies, has completed work on the 1.99mw Nhimbe Fresh Solar Power Plant project to power activities at its estates in Marondera, some 80 kilometers east of Harare, according to chief executive Edwin Moyo. Sun Exchange, a South African energy start-up, collected $1.44 million in a crowd sale, the largest in Africa so far when investors bought individual solar cells in the project. Investors will receive a rental income from the power generated in exchange.
Nearly 2,000 bidders from the United States, Europe, Australia, and South Africa attended the crowd sale. Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, stone fruit, snap peas, fresh veggies, and snow peas are all exported by Nhimbe Fresh, a leading African exporter. The company makes tobacco and is now branching out into avocado and macadamia production.
Zimbabwe’s electricity difficulties have resulted in regular blackouts, pushing some enterprises to invest in solar energy. The shortfalls are partly due to recurring problems at the 920 MW Hwange Thermal Power Station. Mr. Moyo recently stated that the power plant, commissioned on December 16, 2021, will power most of Nhimbe’s operations, including park homes and cold storage facilities. Investors in the solar farm would get a monthly income stream for the next 20 years, according to Sun Exchange, with an anticipated internal rate of return of 16,71% in rand terms.
The deployment of continuous, consistent electricity at a cheaper cost than running diesel generators is expected to cut energy expenses by more than 60% and carbon emissions by more than one million kilos per year at the Nhimbe Fresh plants. Sun Exchange has several firsts with this solar project, including the first project with energy storage capacity. The three project locations will be connected by 3,9 MWh of battery capacity, allowing Nhimbe Fresh to run entirely on solar energy, reducing the impact of grid interruptions and increasing profits. It is the first project with a set lease price tied to the US dollar.
Nhimbe Fresh is also planning to build a dam with a 900 million gallon capacity. It’s also building the ozblu jullietta blueberry pump station, as well as Rukodzi’s farm, which will cover 200 hectares over the next five years. The firm offers an out-grower program that helps 250 smallholder farmers access export markets by providing specialized training and support. Nhimbe had intended to organize an out-grower exhibition in Harare in preparation for the 2022 export season, but the event was canceled owing to a new Covid-19 variant danger.