By Davison Vandira and John Nhandara
Increased investments in alternative energy sources have been identified as a solution to the country’s ever increasing demands of power for household and industrial usage.
Zimbabwe boasts of vast acres of land and untapped solar radiance, which is a clean source of energy that the country can rely on in driving the economy forward.
With several companies having established solar parks and roofs, energy experts say more needs to be done, with corporates expected not only to service their energy requirements, but also to feed excess power into the national grid.
“The developments in the energy sector particularly the hydro source which is being affected by climate change is a sign that Zimbabwe should move at a fast pace to explore the solar energy as a critical complimentary source to the ones already existing to satisfy the energy needs,” noted Energy Expert, Mr Ainos Ngadya.
Investment expert Mr Kudakwashe Mugova said, “It is now time for Zimbabwe to explore other sources of and I am also envisaging an environment where the tariff regime of electricity is cost effective and aligned to the region such that there are no sub optimal tariffs which are counter-productive.”
Currently, Zimbabwe has solar parks such as Harava in Dema, Centrigrid along Chinhoyi Road and Solgas solar field in Gwayi, which are feeding into the national grid.
Meanwhile, the commissioning of the Hwange 7 and 8 power expansion project is expected to plug the country’s power deficit, which stands at 300 megawatts.
Improved economic activity has resulted in the current power generation not matching with electricity demands, prompting the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority to institute load shedding in some cases.
Currently, six units at Kariba hydro power station are generating 600 megawatts, while old units at Hwange Power Station are contributing 400 megawatts into the national grid against a national demand of 1500 megawatts.
“Our electricity generation has been outweighed by demand. Old units at Hwange are producing 400 megawatts while at Kariba we are getting 600 megawatts. However we have independent power producer such as ZZE thermal power station in Hwange producing 50 megawatts. Our local generation is around 1100 to 1200 megawatts before imports,”,said the Minister of Energy and Power Development.
Meanwhile, Hwange Unit 7 and 8 expansion project is now at an advanced stage, with unit 7 expected to be connected on the national grid next month and add 300 megawatts.
“Hwange unit 7 is now undergoing commissioning test. Various systems that add up to the unit are being tested for compliance and conformity. We passed through the critical stage or test of the steam causing rotation of the turbines. We are now on a stage of synchronising the whole system and the actual feeding of electricity into the national grid will be second week of December,” he added.
As part of bridging the gap between electricity supply and demand, Zimbabwe is also importing electricity from countries such Zambia, South Africa and Mozambique.