By Pamenus Tuso
Bulawayo City Council has resorted to solar to power garden lights at Tower Block and Revenue Hall, one of the council‘s major business buildings in Zimbabwe’s second largest city.
The council was in 2010 forced to use a generator after the Revenue Hall and Tower Block buildings were switched off by the Zimbabwe Energy Supply Authority over an unpaid $40 million electricity bill.
To minimise the huge costs incurred through the use of a generator, the local authority recently installed solar garden lights around the two properties.
When operating at 50% capacity, the generator uses 40 litres an hour and 58 litres an hour when operating at 75% capacity. Its consumption rate goes up to 75 litres per hour when it is at 100%. At 110%, the generator gobbles 84 litres of diesel an hour. This translates to costs of more than $85, 000 monthly, according to council officials.
Bulawayo Mayor, Martin Moyo, said council decided to install the solar garden lights in a bid to reduce the high costs associated with the diesel powered generator.
“Council decided to install solar garden lights at the Revenue Hall and Tower Block buildings after realising that solar is a cheap, reliable and environmentally friendly source of power.
“From being cheap to maintain, the solar lights have also brought a sprinkle of twinkle in the gardens at the building. The LED solar are also easy to install,” said the mayor.
The solar panels are mounted atop painted steel poles while the lights are beneath the panels.
The mayor said the brightness of the lights depends on the size of the solar panels.
“The lights simply pick up their power for free from the sun. The bigger the solar panel, the brighter the light,” he explained.
Moyo said residents were also now feeling safe to travel along the gardens during the night, courtesy of the solar technology.
The Bulawayo City Council has also embarked on the installation of solar traffic lights in the City.
According to the Mayor, the City has invested $300,000 into power saving Light Emitting Diodes (LED) technology that has since been installed at 80 intersections.
Moyo added that the LED technology ensures brighter street and traffic lighting and would save the city more money when combined with solar lighting.