Zimbabwe removes barriers to solar energy expansion

Zimbabwe removes barriers to solar energy expansion
Published: 21 July 2019 (141 Views)
Power-short Zimbabwe has removed import duties on solar-energy-related products, from batteries to cables, and mandated that all new construction in the country include solar systems, government officials said.

To deal with power shortages, in part as repeated droughts hits hydropower, the country will now "promote the importation (and) local production of solar equipment and the use of solar power as an alternative energy source," Monica Mutsvangwa, the country's information minister, said Tuesday.

The government said it had set a target to get at least 1,575 megawatts of power from solar by 2030 — about the same amount of electricity the country produces today from a range of sources.

Zimbabwe's government increasingly has called for expansion of renewable energy to meet power shortages, but a lack of effective coordination in policies has stood in the way, energy experts said.

Solar suppliers and renewable energy experts said the costs of putting solar systems in place in Zimbabwe have been too high, holding back expansion of the clean power source.

Patrick Bvumbi, who sells small-scale solar systems in Harare, said a Chinese-made 12-volt battery for use with a small solar system cost $75 — but import costs and taxes plus a markup meant he sold the battery locally for $350.

Although solar panels, lamps, inverters and lanterns have been duty free, the government had required 15% value-added tax plus customs duty on batteries and other solar system components.

Bulukani Masola, the chairman of Solahart Zimbabwe — the firm that installed solar panels to power traffic lights in Harare — said the customs duty was aimed at reducing imports of solar batteries to try to protect local firms that also manufacture the batteries.

But local production has not grown enough to meet the expected demand as the country tries to scale up solar power, he said.

Energy and Power Development minister Fortune Chasi told the Thomson Reuters Foundation the aim of the new policy changes was to "encourage even ordinary individuals to come in and invest in solar projects".

To encourage wider use of solar power the government has introduced net metering, fed-in tariffs for clean energy and policy revisions to enable "independent power producers" to add renewable power to the national grid, said Misheck Siyakatshana, acting head of the Zimbabwe Energy Regulation Authority (Zera).

Industry and Commerce Minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu said the government also is establishing a one-stop-shop investment centre to help potential renewable energy investors process all the needed permits in one place.

"Our focus is to make sure that we facilitate smooth processing of investments" Ndlovu said in an interview.

Net metering regulations to allow renewable energy producers to add any excess energy they produce to the national grid have been in place since last year, he said.

"This initiative does not require one to be licensed, but only requires households or premises to register with the power distribution company," Siyakatshana said.

A handful of projects are already set to take advantage of the changes. Econet Msasa, a mobile phone firm, last month became the first company to connect its solar panel installation to the national grid.

Renewable energy investors, however, say they'd like to see even more change in Zimbabwe's clean energy policies, such as more relaxed licensing rules for small producers.

Right now, for example, "if you want to invest as an independent power producer, you have to negotiate how much power one is going to sell to Zesa" — something that can be hard to predict, said Masola, of Solahart Zimbabwe.

Renewable energy consultant Chandirekera Mutubuki, who has worked on a range of clean energy initiatives in Zimbabwe, said she hoped the new regulations would bring swift advances in clean power.

"I think the Ministry of Energy and Power Development (MOEPD) is on the right track if we start implementing solar options. The problem is that we talk for years and do not get any actual projects on the ground," she said.

"The big megawatt plants are not the only solution. If anything, they cost too much and take way long to implement," she said.

She suggested MOEPD fous on smaller systems, including providing loans to households to install solar panels, with the money paid back through their electricity bills.

"That will solve our load shedding headache because households will be off the grid," she said.

Kalani Ndlovu, a farmer who in 2019 installed a solar mini grid at his farm at Umguza, in Matabeleland North Province, said it had proved a good source of
energy for water pumping, cooking and lighting.

"Establishing the solar system at my farm cost me about $5,000. Initially the costs might look high, but I'm enjoying the benefits from solar as sunlight is
plentiful," he said.

"I'm planning to extend my solar project, to sell some of the units to my neighbours and even to the national grid."


- Thompson Reuters Foundation

 0

You May Like These Videos

Comments

There are no comments.

Latest stories

Will the system change if Chiwenga collapsed and died today?

by Hopewell Chin'ono | 18 August 2019 | 53 Views

Zimbabwe Constitution ignored

by Zimbabwe Vigil Diary | 18 August 2019 | 38 Views

Zimbabwe reaches point of no return, says Chamisa

by Staff reporter | 18 August 2019 | 64 Views

SADC declares Zim solidarity day

by Staff reporter | 18 August 2019 | 66 Views

Another blow for Chamisa's MDC

by Staff reporter | 18 August 2019 | 71 Views

Caps United beat Bosso

by Staff reporter | 18 August 2019 | 63 Views

Accommodation scandal rocks UZ

by Staff reporter | 18 August 2019 | 57 Views

UZ investigating student accommodation scandal

by Staff reporter | 18 August 2019 | 51 Views

South African buffalo is nakéd, media goes on mute

by Zanele Lwana | 18 August 2019 | 50 Views

Mnangagwa back from SADC Summit

by Staff reporter | 18 August 2019 | 61 Views

Phelekezela Mphoko speaks on arrest saga

by Mandla Ndlovu | 18 August 2019 | 101 Views

Chamisa's MDC to appeal against demo ban

by Staff reporter | 18 August 2019 | 75 Views

High Court dismisses application to stop MDC march

by Staff reporter | 18 August 2019 | 154 Views

AU, UN to hear SADC position on sanctions, says Mnangagwa

by Staff reporter | 18 August 2019 | 120 Views

Bad news for Mnangagwa faction

by Mary-Kate Kahari | 18 August 2019 | 194 Views

BREAKING: MDC Bulawayo demonstration stopped

by Mandla Ndlovu | 18 August 2019 | 121 Views

Obert Mpofu behind Chief Ndiweni jail sentence, claims Coltart

by Staff Reporter | 18 August 2019 | 106 Views

Police set to block MDC Alliance Bulawayo demos

by Staff Reporter | 18 August 2019 | 84 Views

Jonathan Moyo calls for UN invasion of Zimbabwe

by Staff Reporter | 18 August 2019 | 111 Views

Phelekzela Mphoko speaks on arrest saga

by Mandla Ndlovu | 18 August 2019 | 90 Views

Chamisa says despot Mugabe is better than Mnangagwa

by Staff reporter | 18 August 2019 | 81 Views

Lumumba urges Zimbabwe political leaders to save 'this great country'

by Staff reporter | 18 August 2019 | 83 Views

Teach early learners using local languages

by Staff reporter | 18 August 2019 | 72 Views

Bulawayo town clerk assault case postponed

by Staff reporter | 18 August 2019 | 56 Views

Mnangagwa's 'third force claim' on abductions rubbished

by Staff reporter | 18 August 2019 | 74 Views

Bulawayo residents stay away from CBD

by Staff reporter | 18 August 2019 | 106 Views

Mnangagwa govt scores own goal

by Staff reporter | 18 August 2019 | 93 Views

'Mnangagwa must stop divide and rule governance'

by Staff reporter | 18 August 2019 | 81 Views

Cops' savage granny 'operated' on

by Staff reporter | 18 August 2019 | 74 Views

Zimbabwe's economic crisis has reached breaking point

by David Pilling | 18 August 2019 | 73 Views

Buyanga challenges ex girlfriend's bid to regain child custody

by Staff reporter | 18 August 2019 | 55 Views

Zimbabwe govt readies for introduction of electric cars

by Staff Reporter | 18 August 2019 | 103 Views

USA role in MDC demonstrations exposed

by Staff Reporter | 18 August 2019 | 129 Views

Teacher fakes children's death for insurance

by Staff Reporter | 18 August 2019 | 94 Views