Renewable solar energy, the way to go

By Taurai Mazwi

Solar energy is the cleanest of all forms of energy and it is something that the Government of Zimbabwe is pushing for as the effects of climate change have taken a toll on our water driven energy generation at Kariba Dam.

It is easy for people to blame Government for the load shedding that is happening in the country, but they should know that they also have a part to play in conserving and using energy.

With the infrastructure in almost all power stations getting obsolete and the levels of water in the Kariba dam depleting due to the effects of climate change, the only best solution is for solar energy. Besides, solar energy is readily available and one will not be affected by the power cuts in any way. In fact they will not even realise that there is any load shedding.

It is with this in mind that Government will soon be launching National Renewable Energy Policy (NREP), which focusses on the energy needs of the country from renewable energy resources. It is an initiative aimed at securing the long term energy needs of the country in a sustainable way.

The aim of the  Policy is to  amplify  the  national  vision  of  the  country  as  spelt  out  by  President  Emmerson Mnangagwa’s vision 2030, which is meant to transform Zimbabwe into an upper middle income economy. The vision can only be achieved if the energy to power industries is readily available.

Under this policy Government is encouraging and pushing up for the use of solar energy and net metering. Net metering is a solar incentive that allows one to store energy in the electric grid when your solar panels produce more electricity than you need. The energy is sent to the grid in exchange for credits. Then, at night or other times when your solar panels are under-producing, they pull energy from the grid and use these credits to offset the costs of that energy.

Net metering helps one account for these differences by crediting them for the excess electricity their panels produce so they can use it later. Net metering is not the only way that utilities compensate homeowners for going solar, it is by far the most common as of 2016, in the United States of America (USA)

Zimbabwe has much to learn from other African countries like Tanzania when it comes to solar energy. According to the Energy Access Situation Report, 2016 Tanzania Mainland, reveals that solar power is the dominant electricity source in the country’s rural areas.

Zimbabwe has several solar power projects that are already running and being used. There is the Centragrid Solar Farm in Nyabira which is currently generating 2.5MW and an additional 20MW being worked on. When completed it will be pushing about 25 megawatts of power into the national grid.

 Harava Solar is another solar project which at the moment is producing 20MW, Riverside in Mutoko is producing 2.5MW, Soul gas is producing 5MW and Schweppes producing 1MW just to mention a few, all of which are producing and contributing into the national grid. All these reduce the demand on the national grid because these are now being used by companies and surrounding areas

It has been noted that developing countries have more than half of global renewable power capacity with China and India rapidly expanding markets for renewable energy. There are many renewable markets that are growing at rapid rates in countries such as Argentina, Costa Rica, Egypt, Indonesia, Kenya, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay.

The use of renewable energy like solar energy in Zimbabwe will surely boost the number of investors for Zimbabwe considering that many would be willing to come and invest in this industry. Producing renewable energy for the whole country. This will surely turn around the fortunes of the nation.

There is no point really in people blaming Government of Zimbabwe and ZESA for the unavailability of electricity due to reasons beyond their control. It is up to everyone to ensure that we save the little electricity we have by using what we have efficiently. Renewable sources of energy are the only solution to the current power challenges that Zimbabwe is facing.