Renewable energy multinational Enel Green Power’s (EGP’s) Ngonye solar plant, in the Lusaka South Multi Facility Economic Zone, is using tracking systems that feature solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to track the movement of the sun throughout the day, capturing sunlight and converting the energy into electricity.
EGP highlights that this is the only site in sub-Saharan Africa to use tracking technology from Convert Italia, with the choice to use this made when designated land from the solar farm was not large enough to accommodate the planned infrastructure.
The tracking of the sun is achieved using a global positioning system (GPS) connected to an electronic tracker control board (ETCB). The integrated GPS device acquires both date and time.
This information, along with astronomical clock algorithms, is sufficient to identify and properly track the sun's position, EGP notes.
Each single-axis tracker automatically tracks the sun's East to West movement during the day. A single ETCB controls a maximum of ten structures with a PV energy capacity of about 97.5 kW.
The primary benefit of the tracking system is that it improves plant efficiency by increasing energy output as it lengthens the plant’s peak generation period above similar-sized fixed axis plants, Enel acclaims.
Commissioned in 2019, the Ngonye plant is a joint venture between EGP and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). The operation has the capacity to supply 34 MW of energy to Zesco, the national electricity utility, under an existing 25-year power purchase agreement.
EGP Zambia’s Kachinga-Wankunda Phiri says the plant is one of only two large-scale, grid-connected renewable energy facilities operating in the country.
“To date, there has only been one procurement round in Zambia leading to projects achieving commercial operations – The Scaling Solar Program – which was managed by the IDC in partnership with the International Finance Corporation,” he notes.
Owing to Zambia’s lack of a long-term procurement programme for renewables, EGP Zambia is focused on growing its commercial and industrial pipeline.