Zim turns to renewable energy as power crisis continues

Staff Writer

The government says Independent Power Producers (IPPs) will play a critical role in supplying the country with electricity as power cuts and massive load shedding continues.

Zimbabwe is currently facing erratic power supplies due to antiquated power generation equipment, climate change that has resulted in dwindling water levels at the country’s hydro-powered plant and limited investment in the capital intensive sector.

The power outages have forced local business including service stations to rely on diesel-powered generators at a time the country is also facing erratic fuel supplies.

In July 2019, the Government of Zimbabwe approved a duty waiver on solar equipment and allowed mining companies to source energy directly from the Southern African Power Pool as part of its efforts to ease the ongoing power cuts.

Energy and Power Development secretary Gloria Magombo told lawmakers attending the commissioning of a 70MW solar plant in Seke that IPPs will in future play a critical role in supplying electricity to the country.

Invest Solar Africa an IPP, is constructing a 70 megawatts(MW) solar plant in  Seke district, few kilometres outside Chitungwiza.

“We want to be switching off Kariba South Hydroelectric Power Plant during the day and rely on solar power. This project has the capacity to provide electricity that fully covers Chitungwiza.  This is what we want to see happening in other provinces as well,” Magombo said.

The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority has licenced more than 30 IPPs with a capacity to generate more than 5 000MW. However, critics say policy inconsistency and unsustainable tariffs have discouraged most investors from rolling out capital intensive projects.

As of February 17, the Zimbabwe Power Company, the country’s power utility, was generating 473 out of a daily demand of 1800MW from its five power stations.

Kariba, the country’s largest power station by capacity is currently generating less than 200MW due to dwindling water levels at the lake.

To cover for the shortfall, the power utility is importing power from regional power utilities especially Eskom of South Africa and Hydro Cahora Bassa of Mozambique.

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Daniel Chigundu

Daniel Chigundu is the news editor for OpenParlyZW an online platform that covers Parliament of Zimbabwe activities using social media (Twitter and Facebook). He is currently the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Journalists Forum and a board member of Digital Communication Network.

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