GOVERNMENT and the private sector should increase support for local engineers to develop cost effective domestic renewable solutions, which largely remain inaccessible to the majority of citizens because of the prohibitive costs.
As more companies and individual households are turning to solar and other renewables in view of crippling power cuts, experts have said the cost of doing so is still heavy on the consumer.
Schweppes Holdings managing director and former Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president, Mr Charles Msipa, says Zimbabwe could swiftly tackle the energy deficit through incentivising adoption of renewable energy solutions.
“We are looking forward to a time when green energy will not cost a premium and urge authorities to incentivise the investment in renewable energy for local businesses. This will have significant national benefits of increased power generation, of which the excess can be channeled to the national grid for the benefit of communities,” said Mr Msipa.
He challenged Government and the private sector to plough more resources towards research and development that will capacitate local engineers to produce renewable energy equipment at home.
At the moment Zimbabwe heavily relies on imports for solar gadgets and this drains the little forex from the economy.
“Cost effective renewable energy solutions are essential for making it more accessible to the populace and general economic development. A good starting point for innovation is lower cost option of batteries for harnessing solar energy,” said Mr Msipa.
Last week Friday, Schweppes commissioned a US$2 million one megawatt solar plant at its Willovale factory in Harare in partnership with Distributed Power Africa (DPA) through a power lease agreement running over a number of years. Energy and Power Development Minister, Advocate Fortune Chasi, who presided over the event was told that the cost of the solar equipment for the company was prohibitive.
“The current cost of batteries for this plant is three times the cost of the solar panels themselves and with replacement required every four years, it is very prohibitive,” said Mr Msipa.
“We have very capable engineers and institutions who can be supported and encouraged to develop solutions to some of these challenges.”
In view of persistent power cuts, Schweppes expects the solar plant to ensure reliable power supply for its main operations during the day, reduce demand on the national grid, save on utility bills and have green energy in support of its organisational sustainability goals in line with environmental, social and economic pillars of growth.
Mr Msipa, who also chairs the Business Council for Sustainable Development Zimbabwe, called on industry to adopt cleaner technologies in line with the global patterns of production and consumption.
“In these modern times businesses have a major role to play in ensuring that global sustainable development is realised. The world is confronted with a lot of challenges that affect socio-economic development of humanity.
“Climate change, waste management, hazardous waste and water scarcity continue to affect millions of people around the world. These emerging pressures have exerted high demand on natural resources and ecological systems around the world, and Zimbabwe is no exception,” he said.
“As private sector, we have to take the lead is mitigating some of the effects of these global issues by embracing the concept and creating a strong culture for sustainable business.”