THE demand for power in Zambia has increased tremendously due to accelerated economic activities and a growing population.
The country’s current power generating capacity is 1,573 megawatts but has a deficit of 327 MW given the national peak demand of 1,900 MW.
The deficit stems from several years of chronic under-investment and sometimes by the low water levels at Kariba Dam Hydro-power Station which the country heavily relies on.
This has meant that Government should put in place measures to address the power deficit as well as low access to electricity by the majority citizens.
Government, through the Ministry of Energy and with the help of stakeholders such as the Development Bank of Germany and the United States for International Development, has found innovative solutions for the energy deficit and effects of climate change that Zambia is facing.
This has culminated into the review of the energy policy, legal and regulatory frameworks to make the energy sector investor-friendly.
Therefore, the launch of a Renewable Energy Feed-In-Tariff (REFiT) strategy on Thursday is a milestone.
The REFiT strategy seeks to promote small and medium-sized renewable energy projects of up to 20 megawatts (MW) through quick deployment of private investment in renewable energy.
The launch of the REFiT strategy will harness the renewable energy sector’s potential to drive economic growth.
The strategy seeks to promote small and medium-sized renewable energy projects of up to 20 megawatts (MW) through quick deployment of private investment in renewable energy.
The launch of the strategy is a milestone for Zambia’s energy sector as it is envisioned to remove barriers to effective licensing and technology-based power purchasing agreements.
Without the REFiT, most investors sat on the fence because they were not sure their investments would be rewarded.
Looking at the country’s endowment, Zambia has capacity to produce diverse forms of renewable energy resources, ranging from bio-mass and hydro–power to geo-thermal, solar, and wind, many of which are unexploited.
The country, too, has enormous potential for the development of mini-grids and stand-alone projects.
With this endowment, there is need for the country to maximise its generation capacity from different sources.
The launch of REFiT will attract private investments to the sector and boost electricity generation.
Currently, there are few private sector players involved in electricity generation.
The new policy will see so many other players coming on board, ranging from corporates to private individuals.
In a country where thousands of farmers keep cattle, pigs and chickens, they should be able to generate energy for their consumption and sell the surplus to the national grid.
Water utilities, the Zambia Correctional Services and public schools may also consider utilising investing in biogas digesters for collection of methane to generate power.
Harnessing the renewable energy sector’s potential is critical to sustaining the current economic activities.
This will ultimately improve the quality of life for all Zambians.