BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
THE Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) says the country could save about 300 megawatts of electricity if all energy consumers were to switch to solar water heating, use energy efficient appliances, adopt LPG or biogas and partake in the net-metering programme.
Addressing journalists in the capital during the authority’s energy journalism workshop recently, Zera acting chief executive Eddington Mazambani said consumers should adopt other alternatives to alleviate power shortages in the country.
“On the demand side, energy management and energy efficiency should constantly be on our minds. It defies logic to ramp up production only for it to be
wasted,” Mazambani said.
On average, Mazambani said domestic power consumption constitutes about 28,8%, competing with mining (17%), agriculture (5,9%), industry (26%), including
commercial institutions and public lighting (21,8%).
“If all energy consumers (domestic, industrial, mining, farmers and commerce) were to switch to solar-water heating, use energy efficient appliances, adopt LPG
or biogas and partake in the net-metering programme, it is envisaged that a total of about 300MW could be saved and channelled towards the sectors that
desperately need power,” he said.
Zimbabwe is currently facing its most severe power crisis in decades, with manufacturing companies and households going for up to 18 hours a day without
The country’s major power plant, Kariba, is currently generating about 40% of its installed capacity due to dwindling water levels, while the second biggest
plant, Hwange, is only generating about 60% of its capacity.
“Should we panic? No. There are alternatives we can embrace to alleviate our current predicament. Energy-supply challenges cannot be resolved in isolation. The generation or production of energy is intricately linked to the environment. Energy supply should be sustainable,” he said.
Mazambani said investors, both foreign and local, were invited to set up power generating plants, preferably powered by renewable energy sources such as wind,
solar and waste, among other sources.
He said individuals could also take advantage of the repeal of duty on solar and energy-efficient equipment.
Solar panels could be installed and the system connected to the grid to leverage on the net-metering scheme, he said.
“Our young scientists and engineers should be encouraged to continue innovating. How can we use locally available materials to manufacture batteries to add
value to our vast lithium deposits? Can we locally manufacture solar parabolic cookers and so on?” Mazambani said.
Renewable energy is seen as a panacea to Zimbabwe’s electricity woes and government, through Zera, has licensed a number of independent power producers, but
some of them were struggling to take off due to lack of funding.
According to the African EU Renewable Energy Co-operation Programme, Zimbabwe has a strong potential for electricity generation from hydro, solar and biomass
resources. But so far, only a fraction of these have been exploited.