Editor's Comment

Put energy in your hands

IT IS evident that reminders about the need to diversify sources of energy will continue. The latest reminder is the announcement that electricity supply from Maamba Collieries Limited’s power station has been halved because of a fault.
The coal-powered plant will operate at half capacity for a while, during which load-shedding hours will increase.
Many must be wishing that Zambia had alternative sources of energy to ensure continued supply of electricity. But rather than just wishing, the solution lies in actualising many brilliant ideas.
The effects of load shedding are hurting in homes, offices, production plants, schools and just about everywhere. The lamentations are loud, so too must the effort to resolve the challenge.
People in Zambia have to live with this deficit for now, but this does not mean there is nothing Zambia can do to counter the consequences of the low water levels in Lake Kariba, the main source of the country’s electricity.
If anything, now is the time to do even more. The latest hiccup is a serious reminder.
Zesco announced an increase in the hours of load shedding from 12 hours to 15 hours for the next 12 days because of a fault at Maamba Collieries, which feeds 300 megawatts of power into the Zesco grid.
It is not in contention that a number of businesses, especially those which depend on power for their operations, have been hit hard by the intermittent supply of power.
Some of them have resorted to operating for shorter hours and this has resulted in loss of revenue.
Other business entities which have resorted to other means of keeping their businesses running have passed on the cost to the consumer. This makes business sense.
But the net effect of all this is the slowing down of the economy, a situation from which Zambia may take longer to recover.
This is not the first time Zambia is experiencing load shedding. The last major serious consequence of low water levels at the power generating stations was in 2015.
Before this, the call for more power was generally raised because of the general growing demand in the domestic, commercial and industrial sectors.
The general response has been to build more hydro- plants and indeed there is evidence of this happening.
But the adverse weather patterns necessitate diversification from hydro-power plants to others such as solar and wind.
Although coal-powered plants, such as the one in Maamba, are also an alternative, this modal requires a lot of environmental protection.
It is good that Zambia has started production of electricity through solar plants, but evidently more still needs to be done. The rewards of the initial solar project are encouraging for investors.
Zambia is blessed with many months of sunshine from which more electricity can and should be generated.
With this scenario of a serious shortage of electricity, the need to push for nuclear energy is enhanced. A start has been made with a research centre being established. The onus is on the experts to turn this research into reality.
And rather than constantly look up to Government and other investors to be the providers of all electricity, Zambians should take the challenge to install alternative sources of energy in their homes and places of work.
Understandably, not all Zambians can afford the solar solutions, for instance. But there are many other Zambians who actually can. They just need to prioritise the use of their resources and they would at least be able to get by without worrying about Zesco’s supply, or indeed lack of.
Government has offered various incentives for those wishing to go into electricity production at all levels. Make use of the opportunity.

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