By Tatenda Mujeyi
The second edition of the renewable energy conference held in Harare yesterday explored the mixed fortunes characteristic of the Zimbabwean energy sector.
The key challenge in the energy sector was inaccessibility of energy to the majority of the population which left non-renewable energy as the only option.
“Latest figures from ZIMSTATS indicated that only 48% of our population is connected to the national grid. Specifically 86% of urban households have access to electricity compared to 28% in rural areas. Our school-going children who do not have access to electricity are forced to use paraffin, candles and other unclean and non-renewable resources,” the Minister of Energy and Power Development Dr. Fortune Chasi said at the event.
Taxing challenges were also conveyed as an impediment that large corporates mainly in the \solar industry were experiencing.
“Customs duties on solar products need to be more inclusive and easier to apply. As a large distributor it is not feasible to import complete solar solutions,” Buckley Davvy, the One Stop Solar General Manager.
Government also noted the complementary support it expected from the private players to fully meet the energy demands.
“We recognise the considerable experience international players have in harnessing renewable energy. Thus for this reason, they are welcome to invest in the country’s renewable energy sector,” Minister Chasi said.
Government also noted the challenges society is experiencing in benefitting from available renewable energy sources.
“The timber industry generates a lot of waste from wood processing that can be used to generate electricity. An estimated 70 000 tonnes of biomass is wasted each year,” the minister said.
Success was also noted in other areas including the ethanol processing plant that had managed to utilise the abundant sugar cane source.
“The petroleum industry has benefitted from petrol blending using ethanol. Ethanol is a renewable resource that we get from sugar-rich plants for example sugar cane,” Minister Chasi said.
Interest from potential investors to venture into the country’s energy sector was high with interests in the solar and nuclear sector being conveyed at the conference.
The Conference was organised by Renpower Zimbabwe in partnership with the Ministry of Energy and Power Development and attended by renewable energy experts from all over the world.