Local News

ED reads riot act over idle IPP

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday warned that independent power producers (IPPs) licensed to set up renewal energy power plants and bridge the energy supply gap risk losing their licences if the projects fail to take off the ground.

“I am disappointed that there is a long list of companies that have been licensed, but they are not found on the ground,” Mnangagwa said while officially opening the third edition of the International Renewable Energy Conference and Expo hosted by Alpha Media Holdings (AMH), publishers of NewsDay, The Standard, Zimbabwe Independent, digital publication Weekly Digest, and owners of online television station, HStv.

The conference, which ended yesterday in Victoria Falls, was held under the theme: New Development Frontier Net Zero Africa.

“It is also disheartening that a number of licensed renewable energy independent power producers are taking too long to set up shop. The necessary modalities must be improved to ensure that licensed power projects are quickly implemented. Otherwise, we shall enforce regulations to give timelines of implementation,” Mnangagwa added.

His warning came two days after Energy and Power Development minister Soda Zhemu ordered the 70 renewable IPPs who have not started work on their projects to get cracking.

According to the Energy ministry, about 90 licences have been issued to independent power producers (IPPs) , but only 20 projects have shown progress to date.

The need for renewable energy comes as the country is experiencing severe power shortages due to low generation capacity.

Demand for power is expected to rise to 2 370MW by year end, 2 711MW next year, 3 407MW in 2024 and 3 943MW in 2025, according to research by power utility Zesa Holdings.

Demand is rising, despite the current output being 1 307MW as of Wednesday, which had been averaging between 500MW and 1 307MW prior to that day.

To meet the power deficit, Zesa needs US$17 million monthly to import between 400MW and 500MW of power, which it is not getting from the central bank’s forex auction.

Challenges in generating sufficient power from the country’s two biggest hydro and thermal plants has forced the power utility to implement daily load-shedding schedules, while intensifying debt recovery efforts.

Mnangagwa said given the negative effects of climate change and in line with the global quest to scale up mitigation against climate change, renewable energies needed to be harnessed.

“Renewable energy is no longer a matter of choice, but of necessity given the negative effects of climate change,” he said.

“In line with the global quest to scale up adaptation and climate change mitigation, this third edition of the conference must result in concrete recommendations and models on ways to harness the opportunities which exist in the renewable energy sector in our country.”

Mnangagwa accepted an invitation to be the patron of the conference which was extended to him by AMH group CEO Kenias Mafukidze.

“Why renewable energy? We could no longer, as media, remain on the sidelines of this developing global catastrophe of climate change,” Mafukidze said.

“As AMH, we are passionate and unapologetic about the success of our country and amongst our motivations, Your Excellency, is the need to empower humans. Our mission is to make a meaningful contribution to Zimbabwe and that is why we organised this renewable energy conference.”