THE Minister of Energy and Power Development, Fortune Chasi, has called for greater private sector participation in the generation of renewable solar energy to help complement Government’s electricity supply.
Speaking during a tour of Distributed Power Africa’s (DPA) recently commissioned solar power plant at Econet’s Willowvale office complex in Harare, the new Energy Minister commended Econet and DPA for leading in the adoption of renewable energy.
“I would like to congratulate the Econet group and DPA for taking the lead in driving the use and adoption of renewable energy which reduces the load on the national power grid,” the minister said.
The installation of the 466KW grid-tied solar system, which was constructed under an Independent Power Producer (IPP) Licence issued by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA), marks DPA’s largest commercial and industrial project to date.
Zimbabwe has been experiencing power shortages that have prompted the national power utility company ZESA to introduce an aggressive load-shedding schedule in a bid to manage power consumption across industry, business and domestic users.
Minister Chasi said Government supported efforts by private sector players such as DPA to deploy solar energy generating plants, as this would reduce dependency on the national grid, lower the energy importation bill and save scarce foreign currency.
“Government fully supports the use of solar power and sees the adoption of renewable energy as a sustainable, clean and long-term option to the challenges of inadequate power supply,” the minister said.
The country’s power deficit has been made worse by the current hydro-power challenges at Kariba Dam, where the water level is dangerously low at only 29 percent full.
“But solar energy can alleviate the country’s dependence on both hydro-power energy and non-renewable fossil fuels, and it can significantly reduce the importation of energy and save scarce foreign currency, which can be used for other national developmental programmes,” the minister said.
He said Government was ready to engage the private sector to create an enabling environment when it comes to power generation, and to ensure an energy policy framework that facilitates for ease of generation and adoption of renewable energy.
Econet Wireless Zimbabwe group CEO Mr Douglas Mboweni said Government’s support was key in the success of renewable energy adoption in Zimbabwe.
“We cherish the Minister of Energy’s visit and his interest in what we are doing. We are encouraged by his commitment to encourage the private sector to participate in contributing to sustainable energy generation,” said Mr Mboweni, pledging that Econet was ready to play its part.
Econet has installed grid-tied solar systems at nearly all of its major business premises around the country, including Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare.
DPA Zimbabwe’s CEO, Mr Divyajeet Mahajan, whose company has successfully installed over 1MW in Zimbabwe, said DPA’s business model lent itself to speedy deployment, at minimum risk to the client.
“We believe that with our zero-risk asset financing model, the adoption of solar energy will significantly increase, and it is our hope that more businesses will take up this opportunity as energy remains a critical pillar in Zimbabwe’s economic transformation,” said Mr Mahajan, adding that DPA had a project pipeline of 150MW.