By Pamenus Tuso
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, Partson Mbiriri, this May, commissioned a solar geyser making plant at Monarch Steel in Bulawayo in a groundbreaking event for Zimbabwe.
Speaking at the commissioning, Mbiriri said Zimbabwe currently has over 200 000 electrical geysers in use and replacing them with solar powered geysers would save about 300 megawatts, a significant amount which he said could be put to better use.
“In our homes 40 percent of the electricity that we use is consumed by electric geysers. This geyser is really a guzzler in terms of power consumption. Forty percent of your bill is too high. If you change your geyser from an electric to a solar geyser, and I speak from experience, your bill will come down,” said Mbiriri.
He said Zimbabwe and the rest of the SADC region have been facing major power shortages due to ageing generation plants and continued growth in demand.
“Generally it is accepted that the region is short of 6 000 megawatts. Unfortunately, there has been no new major electricity generation projects that have been commissioned, causing major supply bottlenecks for most SADCC countries in the region.
“But as they say experience is the best teacher, most countries in the region are busy increasing their generation capacity,” he said.
Mbiriri, the efficient use of energy can be achieved by implementing demand side management. “ We should minimise the use of electricity by switching off switches when leaving our homes. We should also make sure that all our processes are more efficient,” he said.
From June this year, the Government of Zimbabwe will ban the use of inefficient light bulbs.
“We have taken the unusual step of banning inefficient bulbs. Come June, we shall be effecting that ban so that we use bulbs that are efficient and that also last for a long time,” he added.
Monarch managing director, Fitzpatrick Mawovera, said the new solar geyser manufacturing plant was constructed at a cost of more than $150 000 and this investment was worthwhile as it contributes to a cleaner, greener nation.
Nyasha Muchichwa, an economist from the labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe applauded Monarch for coming up with the project.
“Solar power is proving to be more cost effective than other means of electricity. If fully supported by all stakeholders, projects of this nature can change the socio- economic life of people,” he said.