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We need other power sources
Tendai Moyo, The Herald
October 18, 2011
Load shedding has become
the order of the day as the power company tries to juggle the meagre
resource to suit the insatiable needs of an ever increasing consumer
base. Industrial operations are regularly interrupted by frequent
power cuts resulting in costly plant disruptions. Hospitals have
also been hit hard by the wave of unsustainable power outages with
some critically important surgeries having to be rescheduled due
to non-availability of power.
At homes, consumers have
to resort to the use of firewood and other inconvenient alternatives
to meet their basic daily needs for lighting and heating. Unfortunately
the unbridled use of firewood has its own accompanying negative
impact of deforestation, which has seen the greater part of our
natural heritage disappear under our watch.
On a grander scale, the
country's global investment rating continues to tumble as among
other things its power supply is widely adjudged as unreliable.
Such a rating has become a regular stumbling block in the country's
desperate bid to woo back investors so as to resuscitate the sanctions
hit economy. It is in the wake of such uncomplimentary effects of
an unreliable power supply structure on the country that calls for
the removal of duty on solar power equipment by Zimbabwe Power Company
chairman Richard Maasdorp should be viewed.
Mr Maasdorp's proposal
should be viewed as an immediate measure to rectify the scandalous
power supply regime in the country. The removal of duty on solar
power equipment will see households and companies cheaply acquiring
and installing solar systems that will serve as an alternative power
This will greatly reduce
the current unsustainable pressure on the national grid.
In addition to the afore-mentioned
proposal, the ZPC chairman also suggested that concomitant to the
scrapping of duty on solar equipment, the country should also change
its building by-laws to make it mandatory for medium and low-density
houses to be fitted with solar geysers. Geysers are renowned universally
for draining too much electrical power hence their removal from
the national grid will have positive ramifications on the overall
power supply as more power will be subsequently released into the
national grid for the benefit of other essential services like industrial
It should also be noted
that the use of solar systems will not only provide a reprieve to
the overburdened national grid but will have other imbedded environmental
benefits as solar is widely acknowledged as a cleaner source of
power compared to the carbon emitting coal powered thermal power
The use of energy from
the sun will also translate into a reduction in the use of firewood
thus will ultimately mean a reduction in deforestation. In the face
of increasing carbon emissions and concerted efforts by global citizens
to reverse global warming, the option of using solar systems becomes
logical and efficacious.
Solar energy has many
advantages one of them saving money. After the initial investment
has been recovered, the energy from the sun is practically free
and the recovery/payback period for this investment can be very
short depending on how much electricity your household uses. It
will save money on your electricity bills. Solar energy does not
require any fuel and is not affected by the supply and demand of
fuel and is therefore not subjected to any price increases.
savings are immediate and for many years to come. The use of solar
energy also indirectly reduces health costs. Solar energy systems
are virtually maintenance free and will last for decades. Once installed,
there are no recurring costs. They operate silently, have no moving
parts, do not release offensive smells and do not require additional
More solar panels can
easily be added in the future when should a family's needs grow.
Interestingly, electricity is a basic commodity just like any other
basic food commodities that once enjoyed free duty due to their
In the same vein, the
critical shortage of electricity should spur relevant authorities
to scrap duty on not only solar equipment and accessories like solar
panels, inverters and solar batteries but also on any other power
related equipment. To complement these deliberate efforts to seek
alternative ways of producing electrical energy, the country should
also urgently implement plans to rollout energy saver bulbs that
would replace the incandescent bulbs. Energy saver bulbs have been
heavily tipped to drastically reduce the total demand on electricity
and as such will significantly ameliorate the power crunch.
Coupled with the use
of energy saving bulbs, the country should also hasten to implement
plans to fit each household with a pre-paid electricity meter.
These meters would ensure
that consumers only use the power they need. They will eliminate
the extravagancy of overusing electricity and will act as a self-regulatory
measure or a veiled load shedding instrument anchored upon the consumers'
ability to pay for electricity. Other than the aforementioned power
saving measures, government should also introduce favourable incentives
to allow those companies that can afford to import their own power
from outside the country to do so without any tax hindrances.
Independent power producers
should also be allowed to charge viable tariffs.
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