By Bernard Mpofu
Total oil company scaled new heights as the first energy company in Zimbabwe to commission a solar-powered service station as the global energy firm rolls out its renewable energy plan in 57 countries in its bid to reduce carbon emissions.
Zimbabwe is facing erratic power supplies due to antiquated power generation equipment, climate change that has resulted in dwindling water levels at the country’s hydro-powered plant and limited investment in the capital intensive sector.
The power outages have forced local business including service stations to rely on diesel-powered generators at a time the country is facing erratic fuel supplies.
In July 2019, the Government of Zimbabwe approved a duty waiver on solar equipment and allowed mining companies to source energy directly from the Southern African Power Pool as part of its efforts to ease the ongoing power cuts.
“We are therefore pleased to announce that we are the first energy company in Zimbabwe to have commissioned a project to solarise service stations across the country,” the company said in a statement.
Total, according to another statement issued by the group recently, is solarising production sites such as plants and refineries and office buildings. The group said most of its solarised service stations are independent of the grid adding that this project is expected to reduce the company’s retail network’s carbon emissions by 50,000 tons per year.
“Total’s goal is to solarise 5,000 stations in 57 countries. Work will accelerate in the coming months to reach 1,000 stations per year. More than a third of TOTAL retail network stations will be equipped with high-efficiency SunPower solar panels,” the group said.
Apart from energy, Total has also invested in the generation of low carbon electricity.
According to the France-headquartered energy giant, the company integrates climate change into its growth strategy and is currently building a portfolio of low-carbon businesses that are expected to account for 15 to 20 percent of its sales by 2040.
Figures obtained from the energy group show that Total’s gross low carbon power generation capacity is currently standing at 7 gigawatts, of which 3 gigawatts are from renewable energy.