Zimbabwe Leads the Way in Renewable Energy Revolution

President Mnangagwa opens a landmark conference on clean energy in Victoria Falls

by Victor Adetimilehin

Zimbabwe is making strides in the quest for a sustainable energy future, as President Edson Mnangagwa officially opened the 5th Renewable Energy Conference Expo in Victoria Falls on Wednesday.

The conference, which runs from February 27 to March 1, brings together experts, investors, and policymakers from across the continent and beyond to share ideas and solutions for harnessing the power of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro, and biomass.

The theme of the conference is “Building a Sustainable Energy Future”, reflecting Zimbabwe’s commitment to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

In his keynote address, delivered by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, President Mnangagwa challenged the energy sector to innovate and implement robust solutions that will propel the country and the region towards renewable energy targets.

“As we do so, it is critically important that we remain cognizant of our obligations and commitments at the global level. More so, that Zimbabwe joined the comity of nations in supporting the Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge as well as the Cooling Pledge at COP 28 held in the United Arab Emirates last November,” he said.

The president also highlighted Zimbabwe’s role as a founding member of the Accelerated Partnership for Renewables in Africa (APRA), a collaborative initiative launched at the African Climate Summit in September 2023 by Kenya, Ethiopia, Namibia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Zimbabwe, with support from Denmark, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, and the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Zimbabwe’s renewable energy potential

Zimbabwe has abundant renewable energy resources, especially solar and hydro, that can help meet the growing electricity demand and reduce the dependence on fossil fuels.

According to the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, the country has an installed capacity of 2,300 megawatts (MW) of electricity, of which 1,050 MW comes from hydropower plants, mainly the Kariba Dam, which is shared with Zambia.

However, due to recurrent droughts and low water levels, hydropower generation has been severely affected, leading to frequent power cuts and load shedding.

To address this challenge, Zimbabwe has embarked on several renewable energy projects, both public and private, that aim to diversify the energy mix and increase the supply of clean and affordable electricity.

Some of the notable projects include:

– The expansion of the Kariba South Power Station, which added 300 MW to the national grid in 2018.

– The construction of the Hwange Thermal Power Station, which is expected to add 600 MW by 2025, using clean coal technology and carbon capture and storage.

– The development of the Batoka Gorge Hydro Power Project, a joint venture with Zambia, which will generate 2,400 MW of electricity upon completion in 2027.

– The installation of solar water heaters in households and institutions, which has saved about 50 MW of electricity since 2019, thanks to the Electricity Solar Water Heating Regulations.

– The promotion of mini-grids and off-grid solutions, especially in rural and remote areas, which has increased the access to electricity from 40% in 2018 to 60% in 2023, according to the Rural Electrification Agency.

– The licensing of independent power producers (IPPs), who have invested in various renewable energy projects, such as solar farms, wind farms, biogas plants, and biomass plants, adding 271 MW of clean energy to the grid.

A bright future for renewable energy

The Renewable Energy Conference Expo is expected to showcase the achievements and opportunities of renewable energy in Zimbabwe and the region, as well as the challenges and solutions for scaling up and financing the sector.

The conference will also feature exhibitions, workshops, panel discussions, and networking sessions, as well as site visits to some of the renewable energy projects in the country.

The conference is organized by the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, in partnership with Alpha Media Holdings, a leading media group in Zimbabwe, and supported by various sponsors and partners, such as the United Nations, the European Union, the African Development Bank, and the World Bank.

Also, the conference is expected to attract over 500 delegates, including ministers, ambassadors, CEOs, academics, journalists, and civil society representatives, from more than 20 countries.

It is also expected to generate positive impacts on the local economy, especially the tourism and hospitality sector, which has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The conference organizers have put in place strict health and safety protocols, in line with the COVID-19 guidelines, to ensure the well-being of the participants and the host community.

Source: The Herald


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