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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Zimbabwe’s transition to clean energy sources on course

Story by Cordelia Ngara

ZIMBABWE’S transition to clean energy has made significant strides, with a number of completed solar projects dotted across the country under the government public-private partnership initiatives.

In line with meeting some of its obligations to reducing carbon emissions, the Second Republic has stressed on clean energy by opening up the space to independent power producers who have completed projects which include the Guruve Solar Park in Mashonaland Central, Sunset Solar Project in Gwanda, Nyabira Solar Power Plant and the Bemba Solar Project in Tsholotsho, among others.

Independent power producer, New Sahara Ventures chairman, Ainos Ngadya said, “With fossil fuels at the centre of global climate change discussion, Zimbabwe is playing its part to propagate the call to reduce carbon emissions that come through the wide use of fossil fuels.

“There are several projects we have completed across the country so far, with each project contributing about 5 MW per project and these are efforts to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies. Zimbabwe has potential because it has a large land mass to use for solar projects.”

With the country pursuing more than 100 renewable energy projects, Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority acting chief executive officer Mr Edington Mazambani described some of the current operational solar projects countrywide.

“As a country, we will use resources but we will make sure that we do it in a cleaner way. We have got 116 renewable energy projects which are licensed with a total capacity of 2.3 MW and these are mainly solar, two or so projects for wind and the Kariba hydropower station’s capacity is 1050 MW including the recently commissioned Kariba South, which added an additional of 300 MW. We do have about 25 projects which are generating power and they are off-grid for their own consumption. We have seen quite a number of applications coming through for our own consumption – 1 in Bulawayo, 1 in Matabeleland South, 3 licensed for one mining operation in Mashonaland West and a number dotted around the country, with a total of five, with another mining house with a combined capacity of 500MW. With regards to licensed solar projects we have about 40 with a capacity of 76 MW which are being used for own consumption.”

As it stands, 150 megawatts are already being fed into the national grid, with several projects set to be commissioned before the end of this year as explained by Energy and Power Development Minister, Honourable Zhemu Soda.

“We have registered some quite significant success stories in the area of renewables being integrated into our energy mix. We realised that government cannot walk this transition journey alone hence a policy which was introduced in 2019 has laid the foundation on how the private players can be part of the renewable journey.

“Now through the government Implementation initiative that was introduced, it is now easy for investors to come and invest in renewable energy projects and also be able to repatriate some proceeds back to their country. We have 150 megawatts that are being fed into the grid from various producers, and we have some projects which will be commissioned which will contribute to about 70 megawatts that’ll be coming from the projects before the end of this year.”

Greater emphasis on clean energy sources will help Zimbabwe to offset major long-term risks associated with investing in fossil fuels which not only have harmful effects on the environment and tourism sector but may see reduced global demand in future.

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