ZETDC, French investor seal historic hydrogen energy deal President Mnangagwa witnesses the signing ceremony of an MoU between Hydrogène de France director Eastern and Southern Africa Mr Nicholas Lecomte and Zesa Engineer John Diya

Prosper Ndlovu and Leonard Ncube, Chronicle Reporters
THE Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a French renewable investor, Hydrogène de France (HDF Energy) to facilitate the development of Zimbabwe’s first green hydrogen power plant.

The MoU creates a framework for the joint technical and administrative work to complete the development of the investment in Zimbabwe, as well as the commercialisation of its electricity and grid services, through a dedicated power purchase agreement.

Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC)

The companies signed the MoU in the presence of President Mnangagwa who was guest of honour at the official opening ceremony of the International Renewable Energy Conference that ended in Victoria Falls late yesterday afternoon.

The multi-million dollar project, to be set up in the Middle Sabi area is expected to amplify Zimbabwe’s drive towards renewable energy transformation.

Engineer John Diya, representing the Acting Managing Director of ZETDC, signed the MoU with HDF director of energy in Southern and East Africa, Mr Nicolas Lecomte.

Speaking after the signing ceremony, Energy and Power Development Permanent Secretary Dr Gloria Magombo said the hydrogen project being pioneered in Chipinge is an important milestone, which seals a new chapter towards the implementation of more renewable energy into the sector.

Energy and Power Development Secretary, Dr Gloria Magombo

She said hydrogen is the energy for the future to be used in powering vehicles, fuel, in agro-based business and will also be exported thereby bringing the much-needed foreign currency.

Dr Magombo said HDF will produce solar and hydrogen using French technology, rubberstamping fruits of the Second Republic’s policy of engagement and re-engagement where foreign nationals and companies are bringing modern technology to Zimbabwe.

“This is the first time we are taking a step to come up with an MoU between the utility and a technology developer. This MoU provisions for the development of over 1 000MW of solar projects being developed by independent power producers to help narrow severe energy deficits currently being experienced in the country.

“The plant will produce hydrogen 24/7 feeding into the grid through the Middle Sabi Power Station 4km away from the project site, with an annual production of 178KW to supply 220 000 inhabitants,” said Dr Magombo.

She said the development is in line with the aspirations of the country envisioned in the National Development Strategy 1 towards an upper middle-income society by 2030. She said investment in green hydrogen will enhance the country’s ability to expand solar projects without affecting the grid.

The green hydrogen plant will be using solar and hydrogen will be produced through electrolysis.

Green hydrogen is a critical future energy source that will allow solar to produce beyond dark as it can store the energy in the hydrogen and then use it in power generation and transport systems as a fuel, explained Dr Magombo.

National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1)

“We feel we are one of the movers,” she said adding that HDF is already implementing the project in Namibia.

In a post MoU-signing statement, Zesa Holdings said the project creates more benefits by locating the generation of stable and dispatchable renewable energy closer to the demand load centres thus reducing transmission losses and increasing access to electricity for the local population.

“This substantial roll out will require additional renewable base load capacity to prevent three challenges introduced to the grid by intermittent sources of power generation such as wind and solar,” it said.

“Furthermore, the co-operation between HDF Energy and ZETDC will kick-start the implementation of green hydrogen investment and development of technical green hydrogen skills in Zimbabwe.


“This investment will meaningfully contribute to the GDP growth of Manicaland, which has one of the lowest provincial GDP’s per capita in Zimbabwe. There will be a positive impact on the livelihoods of the local community through the local jobs that will be created directly and indirectly, as well as HDF’s corporate and social responsibility initiatives.”

HDF group, listed on the Paris Euronext Stock Exchange, is a global pioneer in hydrogen power plants and a manufacturer of high-power fuel cells that was founded in 2012.

Headquartered in Bordeaux, France, the company is present in 25 countries and across all five continents.

“The electricity demand in the country is very high, in part because of the growth in demand by the productive sector, a positive sign for Zimbabwe’s future. Our solution, the Renewstable® hydrogen power plant, is particularly suitable, not only to supply the necessary electricity, but also the network services to improve the stability and operating conditions of the electrical grid,” said Mr Lecomte.

“The signing today is a key step in our engagement with the ZETDC for the project that demonstrates the commitment of HDF to invest in the development work required to reach a bankable power purchase agreement with the utility. HDF expect to reach financial close on the project and start construction in 2024/2025.”

President Mnangagwa

Engineer Diya commented: “This is an encouraging milestone for ZETDC as it comes at a time when the Government is encouraging the transition to renewable energy. We are currently implementing initiatives to ensure security of electricity supply.

“Electricity is a key economic enabler, and we welcome such a partnership in a bid to bridge the demand/supply gap.” French Ambassador to Zimbabwe Laurent Chevallier who attended the ceremony said: “France is strongly committed to addressing the global challenge of climate change and promoting the development of renewable energy, and I am glad to see French expertise in the innovative field of green hydrogen develop its presence in Zimbabwe.

“This project contributes in a concrete way to strengthening the economic relationship and the partnership between our two countries.”

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