Renewable resources panacea to power crisis

AFTER experiencing increased load shedding in the past few weeks due to annual maintenance at the country’s two main power plants in Kariba and Hwange, it became clear that Zimbabwe’s rural populace will have to endure longer before they have access to electricity.

To exacerbate the situation, a recent study by the Institute of Environmental Studies University of Zimbabwe, revealed that of the 13,1 million people in Zimbabwe about eight million or 60 percent have no access to electricity.

At a time when other countries are talking about advanced technological advancements, we cannot continue to accept such situation as normal. We need to look for innovative solutions to help the bulk of the population residing in rural areas access modern forms of energy.

To address this situation, Zimbabwe must take a leaf from other African countries that are making use of various renewable energy resources to avoid power shortages and for economic development.

After being hit with severe droughts and an unpredictable rainfall pattern, Mali became one of the first countries in Africa to formulate a solar-energy plan and to invite private developers to develop solar projects.

As a result, Norwegian company Scatec Solar is building the first large-scale solar plant in West Africa, aimed at meeting Mali’s growing energy demand. In East Africa, the Lake Turkana Wind Power Station (LTWP) being developed in Kenya is one of Africa’s largest wind farms, if not the largest.

The LTWP is owned by a consortium of companies
including Vesta Wind Systems of Denmark.
The plant is expected to produce more than 310 megawatts of power, which will be integrated into the national power grid in order to stabilise power problems affecting telecommunications operators.

Elsewhere in central and East Africa, several other large-scale solar energy projects are already under way, including in Rwanda and Uganda.

In southern Africa, meanwhile, both Zambia and South Africa have turned to renewable energy, in particular solar technology, to expand the capacity of the power grid, which to a large extent relies on hydro-electric power.

However, it seems Zimbabwe is the only country in Africa that is lagging behind in the adoption of renewable sources of energy though it has the capacity to utilise it on a large-scale.
As such, there is need for the government to come up with a sound policy on renewable energy which can be adopted fully and address power shortages in the country. It boggles the mind that despite hosting the 1996 solar summit, no meaningful progress has been made and the country continues to have power shortages.

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