By Lungelo Ndhlovu
SUKOLUHLE Ncube (37) is preparing supper for her three children. A pot of Isitshwala (thick maize meal) is simmering on the stove, she is still cutting her vegetables when suddenly electricity switches off.
Another power cut, the previous one lasted for 15 hours, which means Ncube has to wait for that long to finish preparing her meal unless she has another alternative. The country is currently facing crippling power cuts with industry and households going for 18 hours a day without electricity.
According to the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, Zimbabwe has a 900 megawatt (MW) power deficit, and solar energy and net metering are the way to go in augmenting the energy short fall.
Net metering is a billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they feed back to the grid.
Energy experts say these credits are used to offset electricity consumed by the customer at a different time during the same billing period like when the customer’s system is not generating enough electricity to meet the customer’s needs.
Successful solar projects undertaken in Zimbabwe so far include Econet Msasa, Econet Willovale, Surrey Chicken and Kefalos Cheese.
“We have installed customer solar plants grid-tied with smart metres, one of them being Econet Msasa,” said Distributed Power Africa (DPA) chief executive officer, Divyajeet Mahajan, in an interview.
Stringent licensing of Independent Power Producers (IPP)s is a challenge to attracting enewable energy investments in Zimbabwe.