‘Efficiency can stop blackouts’

Gloria Magombo

Gloria Magombo

Golden Sibanda Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE could save about 300 megawatts through a virtual power station equal to the planned capacity expansion of Kariba South power station, if it instituted energy efficiency measures to control consumption patterns. Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority chief executive Engineer Gloria Magombo said energy efficiency could spare Zimbabwe nightmares of regular blackouts, without spending a dime.

This comes as Zimbabwe faces debilitating power shortages, with generation capacity at about 1 200MW against demand for the electricity of about 2 200MW at peak periods.

Fears also abound that with efforts underway to turnaround the economy by inducing faster growth, huge investment projects for instance in mining, could come to naught.

“There is opportunity to save up to 300MW in terms of energy, through energy efficiency measures.

If you look at the demand-supply gap as of today, it’s almost about 290MW, which means, if we did the energy measures and expedited them, we will actually not have any load shedding at the current demand levels,” she said.

She made the remarks during panel discussions at the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce annual congress in Victoria Falls, which ended on Friday and ran under the theme “Addressing Competitiveness Challenges in the Emerging Economy”.

Engineer Magombo said that despite the infrastructure deficit in the country, including power generation facilities, there were opportunities to ease the chronic shortages.

The ZERA CEO said industry was also contributing to the power crisis by using energy they did not require for their activities, such as leaving the lights on after work.

“There is a lot which we can do as a country and as industry to make sure that we address this issue and one of the issues, which I also wanted to put across as fact, is that capital costs for new building (power) projects is about $2 500 per kilowatt.

“If we are to save the same amount for the creation of a virtual power station, which means we use less energy, we need $200 per kilowatt, so what it will cost us (for) 300MWx$2 500, we are looking at $750 million, but if we multiply 300MW by $200 we are looking at about $60 million or so, meaning we have an opportunity,” she said.

Eng Magombo said industry should urgently adopt energy saving measures such as use of energy efficient lights, as it will take long to build new generation capacity.

She said it would take only five months to create the virtual power station of 300MW with necessary investment and cooperation in adopting energy efficiency measures.

It is indisputable that adequate power supply is critical for sustainable economic growth and attracting investment, which local platinum miners have cited as a concern in the efforts to set up a refinery.

It is in light of the country’s nagging power deficit problem that Government has contracted Sino Hydro of China for the expansion of Kariba South and Hwange power stations.

But the two power generation projects of note, whose finer details have been concluded with the contractor, will not come on line until at least in the next 42 months.

According to the World Energy Council estimates, about $25 trillion is required for new power projects worldwide while $8,5 trillion is needed just for energy efficiency measures.

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