Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
AN increasing number of people are resorting to solar energy as the renewable resource is becoming popular especially on new properties.
This comes as the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) has raised power tariffs by 50 percent amid reports going forward tariffs will be reviewed on a monthly basis.
A majority of new homeowners have however resorted to solar energy as an alternative because of reliability of the renewable resource.
Solar energy is also affordable since charges associated with it are once off, according to users.
Residents have also noted with concern unavailability of equipment from ZETDC for new connections.
In most cases new properties go for years before being connected because the power utility has no transformers.
A snap survey around new CBZ stands and Hlalani Kuhle houses in Victoria Falls showed that many roofs have solar panels as people turn to solar energy.
Some of Hlalani Kuhle houses were built about 15 years ago and are yet to be connected to electricity as Zesa is reportedly struggling to buy transformers hence people have turned to solar.
With a proper solar system, one can use all general purpose appliances and can therefore do without Zesa power.
Some residents whose houses are connected to electricity are also installing solar power as an alternative when there is no Zesa power.
A solar system comprising panels, invertor, battery and probably lights costs between US$1 000 and US$5 000 depending on type of battery and the panel one buys.
Many who have the money prefer lithium batteries which last longer and have higher capacity compared to ordinary solar batteries.
An ordinary 120W solar panel costs US$100 or more in Victoria Falls.
Residents spoken to said while solar kits are expensive, the cost is worth it as it is a once off compared to Zesa power.
Ms Samukeliso Ngwenya of CBZ stands said she installed a solar system to her new house in June.
“I am using a 3kv battery and I have found solar to be very reliable. The challenge only comes when it is overcast when you are forced to reduce consumption by switching off other appliances like fridges. As we speak I am using TV, microwave, fridge and washing machine which I only use between 8am and 12 noon as advised.
“The only gadget solar technicians told me not to use considering the capacity of my equipment, is an iron but otherwise everything else I can use. One can say solar is expensive considering the cost of buying the whole system but it’s worth it considering the advantages it has over Zesa electricity,” said Ms Ngwenya.
She said she would only connect Zesa electricity for back-up.
Ms Ngwenya uses gas for cooking.
Even the Victoria Falls Municipality has been courting investors to partner it to install solar powered street lights.
The local authority partnered CBZ Bank a few years ago and installed solar street lights in the new stands but unfortunately most of them have been vandalised by people stealing solar panels and batteries.
A resident who preferred to remain anonymous said solar energy is the best alternative.
“I am about to finish my house and will also be installing solar. I cannot wait for Zesa which is always saying they don’t have transformers to connect new properties,” he said.
Mr Silas Maligo, another solar energy user, said he is enjoying undisturbed access to energy and internet services using solar.
“I think solar is the best because you are not even affected by load shedding. Where we stay the developer put sewer, water and roads but there is no electricity hence many have resorted to using solar.
“The good thing is that dealers are now making solar appliances like irons and air conditioners which makes solar energy very reliable,” he [email protected]