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Zera engages towns on alternative energy sources

The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) is working on securing Private Public Partnerships (PPPs) for Mutare and Masvingo city council to enable them to start exploiting methane gas as an alternative energy source.

BY OUR STAFF

Methane — whose main source is natural gas — is an odourless and colourless gas that occurs abundantly in nature and is the most simple form of hydrocarbons.

Zimbabwe is currently experiencing an acute power crisis characterised by massive load-shedding, a situation that has adversely affected all sectors of the economy.

However, government is rapidly moving towards promoting new investments in renewable energies in a bid to reduce power demand on the national grid.

Zera chief executive Gloria Magombo told an energy stakeholder’s meeting that she had meetings with the town clerks of the cities of Mutare and Masvingo.

“We believe that there is potential for them to use the methane being flared into the atmosphere now for them to produce their own power, especially for the pumping works and the sewer systems,” she said.

Magombo said the main issue of concern was financing as the city authorities did not have money to implement the projects.
“We would want to urge the cities to try to partner with private sector investors so that they can come in to use that gas to generate power and sell power to consumers,” she said.

Magombo said Zera would be meeting officials from the ministry of local government to push them to come up with some form of public-private partnerships.

“The potential is there, we believe we need to harness that so that we are able to use the resources we have,” said Magombo.

Turning to the issue of the least cost energy planning (best practices), Magombo said at a regional level the Southern African Power Pool (Sapp) identified the least cost project.

Sapp was established with the primary objective of providing a reliable and economical electricity supply to member states, which include Zimbabwe.

Sapp, which is under the auspices of the Sadc region, aims to ensure that the southern African region is one of the choices for investments by energy intensive users.
“However, there is still a lot of negotiation on those [least cost projects]; there is also the issue of the transmission network construction,” she said.

Magombo said one of the key corridors for movement of power would be the central corridor which is coming through Zimbabwe and the question is how funding will be secured for those additional capacity requirements.

With regard to local entrepreneurs, she said Zera was looking at engaging with those who are promoting the current liquid propane stoves which unfortunately are being imported.

“We should look into the localisation component. We want to start with at least a pilot project to see how effective they are and if they work effectively,” she said.

Magombo said in that way, it would become easier to promote local participation.

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