ZESA turns to alternative power sources

20 Oct, 2021 - 00:10 0 Views
ZESA turns to alternative power sources The Hwange power plant expansion project will add 600MW to the national grid

The Herald

Michael Tome Business Reporter

ZIMBABWE is weighing immediate ways to come up with alternative power sources following global calls to move away from coal-fuelled power plants under the “no new coal” agenda.

This was revealed by Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) Holdings executive-chairman Dr Sydney Gata during a recent tour of the Zimbabwe Power Company in Hwange.

The conversation comes hot on the heels of subtle defiance of the coal-use ban by the South African authorities.

South Africa’s Mining and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe reportedly said, “Rich nations should not force South Africa to ban new coal-power projects and impose other conditions as a requirement for funding to help reduce its environmental footprint.”

Mr Mantashe is of the view that South Africa must be accorded enough time to transition away from coal-fired power generation systematically and not rush a switch to renewable energy sources.

A significant share of the world’s pollution comes from just a few countries, for instance, the United States is responsible for almost 14 percent of all global emissions.

It is quite unfortunate that Zimbabwe is finding itself at the receiving end of the new global regulations on thermal power, thus fast becoming a victim of the move away from coal.

According to Climate trade, Zimbabwe is ranked number 100 on the carbon emissions list in the world contributing 0,03 percent of the world’s share, while 10 countries produced most of the emissions, measured in millions of tons of carbon dioxide in 2019.

Addressing the media, Dr Gata lamented the potential loss of the abundant resource to the new global code of practice that is driving the world towards reduced carbon emissions by industries, further citing that the “no new coal agenda” will exterminate the market of the resource worldwide.

Zimbabwe finds itself in a catch 22 as one of its fore-funders (China) has since heeded the call for “no new coal agenda” thus halting its financing schemes particularly to the resource rich Southern Africa.

“On the coal issue it is a sad story really for Southern Africa especially for countries that are rich in this mineral resource, but for the time being the door has been shut on coal power plants.

“Nobody will finance them, in fact, we were going to benefit quite a lot if the financing was still available. In Europe and also in America but especially in China where they have decommissioned dozens of these power plants. We longer have a market,” said Dr Gata.

Dr Gata was, however, quick to point out some of the alternatives his company had up the sleeve to compensate for the looming power gap given that coal-powered plants were central to Zimbabwe’s energy mix.

“The door has shut down on coal, so we have to look at alternative technologies and we are investigating with partners from South Korea to explore plasma gasification of municipal waste, which has marginal consequences on the environment.

“This (is) a project we are already in — a development study phase in Harare and we are probably going to extend it to Bulawayo because that facility will be located in big cities which discharge a lot of municipal waste which will be the fuel to the technology I am talking of,” said Dr Gata.

Plasma gasification is an emerging technology that can process landfill waste to extract commodity recyclables and convert carbon-based materials into fuels.

Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe are some of the countries that have proceeded with coal power plant plans despite the global “no new coal” agenda.

These five African countries are part of a group of 21 countries that have more than one new coal power plant at the planning stage.

The five African countries all have projects that are seeking financing from China and now face an uncertain future following calls to move away from coal.

Zimbabwe has access to vast and diverse possible energy resources which include about 12 billion metric tonnes of coal, hydro power potential concentrated along the Zambezi River.

However, massive efforts are being established to tap into solar power potential.

According to Climate trade, each year more than 36 000 million tons of carbon dioxide are released into the Earth’s atmosphere, it is the main source of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

Most of these gases come from the use of fossil fuels, the generation of energy through non-renewable channels, and polluting human activities.

In the ranking below are the 10 countries that produce the most emissions, measured in millions of tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2019.

  1. China, with more than 10 065 million tons of CO2 released.
  2. United States, with 5 416 million tons
  3. India, with 2 654 million tons
  4. Russia, with 1 711 million tons
  5. Japan, 1 162 million tons
  6. Germany, 759 million tons
  7. Iran, 720 million tons
  8. South Korea, 659 million tons
  9. Saudi Arabia, 621 million tons
  10. Indonesia, 615 million tons

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