30 MW of power saved

THE country has managed to save over 30 megawatts (MW) since the banning of incandescent bulbs last year as it moves to reduce importation of power while channelling it to more productive sectors of the economy.

In an interview with Sunday News Business on the sidelines of the official opening of the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) office in Bulawayo on Thursday last week, the authority’s chief executive officer, Engineer Gloria Magombo, said the country has made significant strides to reduce power usage from the national grid through implementing a number of energy renewable projects as well as the banning of incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light emitting diode (LED).

“With just incentives to reduce power and banning of incandescent bulbs we believe that we have saved over 30MW and some of it came about the interception and destruction of 300 000 incandescent light, which have been imported through the back door and have been crushed by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) with us and Ema (Environmental Management Agency) witnessing. So we believe that this initiative has been worthwhile and we believe that we will save more . . . ,” said Eng Magombo.

Incandescent bulbs were banned in the country in May last year under Statutory Instrument 21 of 2017. The country is advocating for the use of more efficient LED bulbs that are said to have the capacity to save the country about 300MW of electricity per month. Anyone found using or distributing incandescent bulbs or ordinary filament lamps, faces an imprisonment term of up to one year and or a fine of up to $5 000. Eng Magombo said the use of energy saving bulbs plays a pivotal role in reducing power importation.

“If you look at the initiative that we just did at Mpilo (Central Hospital) where we retrofitted over 5 700 lights for the whole hospital, it will reduce their demand significantly as a hospital and we believe that such initiatives, if taken not just here, but across the whole country will make a difference especially in reducing the importation bill because if we do the initiative internally we are saving on power, which would have been imported,” she said.

Due to the power deficit of about 600MW, the country last year was importing an average of about 50MW and 350MW from regional power utilities. Last year Zimbabwe spent an average of between $7 million and $12 million per week on electricity imports. Eng Magombo said Zera has licensed over 30 Independent Power Producers (IPPs) with 12 power projects being operational but hinted that most of the projects’ take off were stalled due to funding constraints.

“You will also appreciate that prior to the new (political) dispensation there were a lot of challenges with regards to access to financing.

While the projects promoters would have had partners coming through, most of them were shying away at the last minute. As I speak right now, we have three projects that have reached financial closure and are under construction. We have two mini-hydro power stations and one solar (project) and we already have a fully operational solar plant, which was something, which people thought would never happen but it was commissioned early this year,” she said.

Eng Magombo said policy changes brought about by the new political dispensation were likely to woo more investors to invest into the country’s energy sector.

“We expect that more projects will now be implemented and even for those that lost their partners there are a lot of new partners who are coming in and saying if you have your project, which is ready for development, we are ready to come in and assist and I think some of our policies like the indigenisation policy were also affecting some of the projects to go ahead, given the high capital intensiveness of the project,” she said.

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