BY BUSINESS REPORTER
BUILDING materials manufacturer Turnall Holdings will switch to solar plants at the company’s Harare and Bulawayo factories to reduce its electricity bills, company finance director Samson Mavende has revealed.
Mavende told Standardbusiness during a tour of the company’s operations that the firm was considering investment in renewable energy as the cost of electricity was weighing down its operations.
“There are some investors who have approached us with plans to install cheaper sources of energy, and we are actually looking at them now,” he said.
“They want to invest in solar technology and then they charge us for using that at a rate that is much lower than Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) rates.
“This could be the first step before having our own since we have got other challenges, we would rather concentrate on the plant itself.”
Mavende added the company was paying over RTGS$18 000 per month for electricity used on the tile plant only, which was commissioned in 2011, and that amount was expected to increase following Zesa’s proposal to hike tariffs.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Sifelani Jabangwe said the current spiral of prices that hit the country was likely to see Zesa reviewing its tariffs soon.
He said industry must be prepared when the new price structure is enforced.
“Since moving away from using the 1:1 rate, Zesa tariffs are not that much now, they are actually the lowest in the region so far,” Jabangwe said.
“But industry must brace for tariff hikes soon and we welcome such innovative ideas to move to other sources of power.”
Zesa tariffs are currently pegged at 9,86 cents per kilowatt/hour (kWh), and the likely increase will see tariffs range between14 cents per kWh and 15 cents per kWh.
Meanwhile, Turnall’s tile plant manager Tawanda Mandaza said the company was making strategic initiatives to buffer its operations from inflationary and liquidity shocks that had led to cement shortages since last year.
“We are currently installing a 60-tonne cement silo, this is probably going to take us close to a month to complete,” he said.
“We felt the need to have this silo after we experienced shortages in the past few months.
“In the meantime, we are working with a 90-tonne silo, which was built a few years ago.
“If the second one is complete, it will bring us to 150 tonnes, which can provide cover in times of need.”