Zimbabwe says not keen on developing solar energy

HARARE, — Zimbabwe is not keen on developing solar energy because it is expensive when compared with other forms of energy, a senior government official said on Monday.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development Patson Mbiriri said developing solar energy was not a viable option for Zimbabwe despite the country possessing abundant sunshine.

“Solar is available during our off-peak period. We have peak demand in the morning and evening and yet during the morning there is no sunshine and in the evening there is also no sunshine. So we have lots of solar available during the day, during our off-peak period,” Mbiriri said.

He was addressing a parliamentary committee of parliament.

He said fair pricing of solar energy was also not guaranteed since “politics” always come into play in determining energy tariffs.

He said Zimbabwe had enjoyed a stable supply of power over the year despite facing significant challenges with power generation due to reliable imports from South Africa and Mozambique.

The country is importing 400 MW of power from the two neighboring countries to augment local supplies.

Zimbabwe’s power demand has declined to 1,400 MW from 2,200 MW a decade ago due to low industrial productivity.

Its ageing power plants, built before the country’s independence from Britain in 1980, are producing on average 1,000 MW, leaving the country to rely on imports to plug the deficit.

Chinese firm Sino Hydro is currently expanding one of the country’s major power plants – Kariba Power Station – to add an additional 300 MW.

The first unit of the expansion project is expected to come on stream in December 2017.

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