Zimbabwe Mines Turn to Solar As Power Crisis Deepens

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s mines are increasingly turning to solar energy, as the southern African country’s power crisis escalates.

Mines Minister, Winston Chitando said last week that so big has been the push towards solar that he expected mines to be producing more than 600 megawatts (MW) of electricity from solar energy by 2023.

Chitando spoke at the annual awards ceremony for mining journalists.

“As the US$12 billion (mining industry growth vision) is unpacked, you will find that new power generation will come from mining companies establishing solar projects; by the year 2023 we will have over 600 megawatts (MW) of power from projects undertaken by the mining sector,” he said.

“If you look at the current demand for your electricity in the country, (which is) 1 900MW, we will have 600MW added into the grid by 2023. We will have new production coming just from solar, renewable energy. Not to mention the thermal,” he said.

The southern African nation is currently experiencing a crippling power crisis ever, which has seen industry and households going for up to 18 hours a day without electricity.
Chitando pleaded with the media to assist in the attainment of a US$12 billion mining industry in Zimbabwe by 2023.

“At times you ask what role the media should play at a time when you have this important transition in the mining industry. A 344% increase in five years in the mining industry. Where else has it been done? His Excellency (President Emmerson Mnangagwa) has set very high standards which are being achieved,” he said.

“Probably, it won’t be accurate to say the US$12 billion will not be achieved by the year 2023 because the US$12 billion is being achieved. It’s in the process of being achieved. We do have projects which are being commissioned in this quarter.”

He promised that more new projects would also be commissioned during the first quarter of next year. Energypedia says there is an enormous potential for use of solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar water heaters that has not yet been exploited in Zimbabwe.

“Technically, solar PV has a potential of 300 MW. At present only 1% of the technical potential for solar water heaters has been exploited. Solar power is mostly installed in rural areas of Zimbabwe at service centres such as schools, clinics, police stations and hospitals. However, the private home market for solar is growing,” the organisation said.