More funds for Zim’s renewable energy drive

MORE options to fund renewable energy projects continue to be explored, with the Government, Old Mutual and development partners crafting a Renewable Energy Fund that has an initial investment of US$45 million.

This came out here yesterday during the official opening of the International Renewable Energy Conference and Expo by President Mnangagwa, who was represented by Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga.

The fund also comes as Zimbabwe continues to fine-tune policies related to renewable energy, a move that has attracted more investors.

Already, a number of solar projects with a capacity to feed over 50MW into the national grid have been completed and are set to be commissioned this year.

Energy and Power Development Minister Edgar Moyo said to pace up investments into renewable energy, his ministry has tendered the National Energy Efficiency Policy to Cabinet for approval and adoption.

He said President Mnangagwa’s visionary leadership has seen the promulgation of several key policies that are now causing investments to start flowing into the renewable energy sector.

“This year we celebrate the completion and commissioning of several independent power producer (IPP) projects which we will invite you, Your Excellency, to come and officially commission soon,” he said.

“These include a 5MW solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant near the Victoria Falls Airport, and two solar PV plants in Mashonaland West with a cumulative capacity of 58MW.

“We also have a 5MW mini-hydro power station in Masvingo Province. This is just a short list of the numerous projects happening around the country and these are being developed using local funds.”

Minister Moyo said since 2008, there has been a general increase in the demand for fuel due to increased imports and use of vehicles for domestic, public and industrial purposes.

There have been times also when diesel powered generators were used heavily to mitigate the possibility of losses as a result of power outages in industry and even in domestic areas, where small-scale businesses have been mushrooming.

Rural to urban migration and increased numbers of public passengers in urban areas, have also been witnessed.

However, Minister Moyo said they see challenges in the sector, which “present even bigger opportunities”.

The Ministry of Energy, together with the ministries responsible for Environment, Transport and Industry, came together to craft an Electric Vehicles Policy, Strategy and Roadmap, which is meant to promote the adoption of electric mobility in the country with charging infrastructure primarily being powered by renewable energy sources.

“I am glad that some service stations, mostly those belonging to Petrotrade and Zuva Petroleum, have already installed charging stations for electric vehicles.

“We continue to exert effort in incentivising the adoption of these electric vehicles in line with global best practices. The use of electric vehicles will boost the country’s demand for lithium batteries, the resource of which we have started to mine in our own country.

“. . . I urge all industry players, academics and financial institutions to invest in research and development in the lithium battery sector so that we also control the narrative on batteries on the global platform. Lithium batteries also have the potential to provide our grid with an option to stabilise it and store excess power from our growing base of solar and other variable power sources across the country,” he said.

Through various facilities extended to Zimbabwe by organisations that include the United Nations and Africa Development Bank, the country has beefed up its efforts in rapid deployment of clean and modern energy options in rural areas.

Old Mutual chief finance officer Mr Tendai Mudekunye said to date, Old Mutual has invested in six renewable energy projects with a combined generation capacity of 42MW.

“And out of the six projects, we are already feeding 10MW into the national grid with an additional 32MW coming on stream by the middle of this year,” he said.

Mr Mudekunye said the projects were part of the organisation’s contribution to the National Development Strategy, which seeks to accelerate development in the country.

“To further our thrust and achievements in the renewable energy sector, we, together with our partners in the United Nations family, have conceptualised the Renewable Energy Fund, a platform for mobilising resources and facilitating investments in renewable energy solutions across Zimbabwe, leveraging our experience and expertise in this sector.

“The fund will be launched onto the market soon. Old Mutual has committed to injecting US$10 million in this Renewable Energy Fund, alongside commitments from the Government of Zimbabwe and the Multi-Partner Trust Fund through the UN SDG Fund Secretariat.

“It is anticipated that more institutional investors will come in and commit to the Fund to enable creation of positive futures in the renewable energy space. We will continue to support government programmes through this initiative,” said Mr Mudekunye.

UN Resident Coordinator Mr Edward Kallon said renewable energy was pivotal to the UN’ efforts in Zimbabwe, serving as a cornerstone for sustainable development and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

He said by promoting the adoption of renewable energy sources, the UN supports Zimbabwe in mitigating climate change, improving energy access, and driving socio-economic progress, thus furthering the Government’s mission of establishing a more sustainable and equitable future for all Zimbabweans.

“Today marks a significant milestone in our collective endeavours as I proudly announce that the United Nations, in collaboration with your administration – the Government of Zimbabwe, is embarking on a pioneering initiative to spur investments in renewable energy.

“Together with our esteemed national and international partners, we have launched the ‘Catalysing Investments into Renewable Energy for the Acceleration of the Attainment of the SDGs in Zimbabwe’ project – an ambitious endeavour aimed at promoting sustainable development and advancing progress across the nation.

“This flagship project was jointly developed by the Ministry of Energy and Power Development and four partnering UN agencies: UNESCO (lead), UNDP, UNWOMEN, and UNCDF, under my coordination,” said Mr Kallon.

Central to the initiative is the establishment of a Renewable Energy Fund, designed to mobilise resources and facilitate investments in renewable energy solutions across Zimbabwe.

With an initial investment of US$45 million, this fund signifies a concrete commitment to driving sustainable development and progress in the country.

Old Mutual will manage the Renewable Energy Fund, leveraging their expertise and dedication to sustainable finance.

Added Mr Kallon: “Together, we will harness the power of partnerships to unlock the transformative potential of renewable energy and pave the way for a brighter future.

Herald

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