by WELLINGTON TONI
HARARE, (CAJ News) – SOLAR energy has emerged the most viable solution amid the critical power shortages in Africa culminating in high production costs and reduced revenues.
Conversely, the use of generators by some companies to beat the electricity deficits has proven costly because of the high price of petrol and diesel to power the machines.
In Zimbabwe, the price of these, albeit scarce, fuels range between US$1,15 and $1,20 per litre.
With these challenges in mind, the clean energy company- Developed Power Africa (DPA) – and Canadian Solar have started a joint project to produce top tier photovoltaic (PV) panels.
The project, which will be extended from the East African country of Kenya into Southern Africa imminently, particularly Zimbabwe.
The deal is estimated to provide 60 000 KuMax and KiKu panels, enough to construct 50 large industrial solar plants.
Norman Moyo, the DPA group chief executive officer, said this was a major commitment to his group’s vision of delivering energy security to the continent.
He said the PV panels would be made available to customers in Kenya, Lesotho, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe with the intention to expand into other markets.
Currently, DPA is working with the Agha Khan Hospital in Mombasa as part of their drive to contribute to a cleaner environment, in line with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Solar for Health initiative.
The project that has culminated in a lot of health centres opting for solar.
In Kenya, companies lose 10 percent of their production time due to power outages.
In Zimbabwe, the figure is estimated at above 35 percent.
Zimbabwe’s electricity generation has been heavily affected by low water levels in Kariba Dam due to drought and breakdowns at the Hwange Thermal Power Station.
The station is currently undergoing refurbishment from a Chinese company. Work is scheduled to be completed by 2022.
Zimbabwe imports electricity from Mozambique’s Hidroeléctrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB) and Eskom in South Africa but huge legacy debts have seen reduced imports.
Such challenges have driven the adoption of solar energy.
In the second city of Bulawayo, almost all council-owned clinics operate on solar.
It is hoped that industrial and commercial projects on the continent such as data centres, manufacturers, schools and hospitals will have access to better quality services.
In Zimbabwe, internet service provider, Dandemutande, recently opened the first cloud centre in the country, also uses green energy.
It is expected to leverage on solar energy to provide uninterrupted services.
Most of Zimbabwe’s solar products come from China. The entry of a new player in the industry is anticipated to lower prices.
South Africa is also another heavy exporter of solar products and batteries especially into the Matabeleland South and North provinces of Zimbabwe, which have a higher population working across the border.
“We will leverage Canadian Solar’s PV technology capabilities and customer base in growing their pipeline in Africa as well as to continue to unlock new hybrid technologies to solve Africa’s twin challenges of generation and distribution,” Moyo said.
– CAJ News