Prosper Ndlovu at Victoria Falls
ZIMBABWE is actively pursuing new energy infrastructure projects to bridge the national energy supply gap and bolster regional electricity needs, which is essential for SADC’s industrialization and overall competitiveness, President Mnangagwa said yesterday. .
Given the reality of climate change and the global transition to renewable energy sources, the President said that regional member states have an obligation to work in a concerted manner towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal number seven (affordable and clean energy by 2030) through expanding infrastructure and upgrading technology to provide cleaner and more efficient energy generation.
Officially opening the 3rd International Renewable Energy Conference and Expo, President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe is committed to global aspirations and goals on climate change adaptation.
In order to address the resulting electricity supply shortfall, which is driven by growing demand alongside the momentum of economic growth, President Mnangagwa said the government is rehabilitating and extending the life of old power plants while creating new productive capacities through the public and private sectors. industry involvement.
“The completion of the Hwange 7 and 8 expansion project is expected to bring an additional 600 MW to the national grid, while independent renewable power producers will contribute to the gradual integration of renewables into our country’s energy mix,” said said President Mnangagwa.
“The regional integration agenda and the associated need to develop shared infrastructure means that countries in our region urgently need to increase the region’s collective power generation capacity.
This will not only close the current regional energy deficit and achieve energy self-sufficiency, but also enhance the industrialization, modernization and overall competitiveness of our SADC region.
President Mnangagwa said the implementation of cross-border renewable energy infrastructure projects is now more critical and urgent as the region moves towards Africa’s “New Net Zero Frontier”.
The high-level conference, which has attracted policymakers and energy experts, comes after the world came together at the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP26) late last year in Glasgow, UK UK, where delegates agreed to embrace renewable energy to counter the effects of the climate. change.
President Mnangagwa challenged delegates to scale up climate change adaptation and mitigation by developing concrete recommendations and models on how to harness the opportunities that exist in the renewable energy sector.
“The adoption of cleaner and renewable sources of energy has the potential to advance equality, fight poverty while enhancing the sustainability of development, society and the environment,” he said. he declares.
“My government has deliberately developed multi-pronged national policies to integrate our climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies, including the Renewable Energy Policy which aims to enhance the use of alternative energy.”
Zimbabwe is blessed with enormous and diverse renewable energy potential, which must be harnessed to create a sustainable energy portfolio, President Mnangagwa said.
He said the need to counter the effects of climate change has boosted the investment momentum in the renewable energy sector from local and international investors.
The new projects, President Mnangagwa added, increase the power supply to major power stations, which have tended to be erratic due to challenges brought about by illegal sanctions, obsolete equipment and reduced hydropower generation in the Lake Kariba due to more frequent droughts, among others. The factors.
“The governments of Zimbabwe and Zambia are therefore exploring ways to develop hydropower in Batoka Gorge, Devil’s Gorge and Mupata.
The development of these hydropower plants on the Zambezi Gorge has the potential to increase the region’s energy security,” President Mnangagwa said.
“Additionally, a partnership between Zimbabwe and Mozambique on the Mpanda-Nkuwa and other projects in the Zambezi basin are also under consideration.
I therefore invite investors to join us and facilitate the development of these gaping bankable investment opportunities. »
President Mnangagwa said his administration is also undertaking a program of large-scale dam construction, spread across all provinces, which beyond increasing irrigation capacity and ensuring food security, should produce additional hydroelectricity.
He also said that more attention should be given to harnessing wind energy as an area that is still untapped in the country.
“The government is also exploring other ways to improve security of energy supply through demand side management, with prospects for partnerships and investments,” he said.
To ensure universal access to affordable electricity for rural communities, the President said the Rural Electrification Agency is accelerating the electrification program, which will see increased use of solar mini-grids.
The program will be complemented by the use of biogas, wind turbines and other technologies.
In addition, Zimbabwe continues to promote the adoption of mid-scale rooftop and ground-mounted solar systems through net metering.
As a result, net metering regulations have been changed to accommodate larger systems of up to 5 MW, with companies now allowed to generate electricity for their own consumption and supply excess capacity to the National Network.
“Cumulatively, utility-scale solar power plants, solar mini-grids, mini-hydropower plants, to name a few, are now steadily increasing the share of renewables in the national power system,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said the Second Republic made a conscious decision to blend gasoline with bioethanol from sugar cane and increase biodiesel production.
“This has not only reduced our fuel import bill, but has also led to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Furthermore, the programs have seen the empowerment of communities, especially smallholder sugar cane farmers, through increased participation in the traditional economy,” President Mnangagwa said.