Carbon credits bring solar energy to rural areas

Rural communities without electricity have been relying on paraffin lamps and other oils for lighting while others use candles or cut down trees for firewood so that children get enough light for reading, although better access to solar technology will make a huge difference.

Paraffin and other lamp oils are a major source of carbon emissions as well as greenhouse gases. With solar technology having a high capital cost, a funding system that directly uses the carbon credits from dropping paraffin to subsidise solar is making a breakthrough.

A local non-governmental organisation, Namene Solar, is using this funding model to bring solar lighting to communities in Mashonaland Central.

Speaking at a stakeholders meeting, the organisation’s sales and marketing manager, Mr Jeffrey Muderere said the projects falls under the carbon credits framework and is being implemented in Zambia, Namibia and Lesotho.

In Zimbabwe, they started the project in 2002 in Mashonaland East and Mashonaland West.

“We are implementing the project in Midlands, Mashonaland Central and Manicaland this year. Our objective is for people to eradicate paraffin lamps and candles,” he said.

“We realised that people also cut down trees to light their houses. We are discouraging people from using oil lamps and candles.”

Namene Solar will be distributing solar lights for a minimum price of US$4 to enable them to cover licences, tax and distribution costs.

Mr Muderere said the carbon revenue will allow them to subsidise the price of the solar lamp without compromising its quality and durability.

The solar light lasts up to 10 hours before being recharged. It comes with a stand for or can be hung on a hook.

“School children can use it for reading. The light can be used as a desk lamp. We reduced the price because the projects fall under carbon credits. It is important that the light is distributed to the right people who are in need of clean sources of energy,” he said.

“Under the project the light must work every day because each day that it is off means we are diverting from our objective. We want people to stop burning firewood.”

They have distributed 120 000 lamps in Mashonaland West and East and they are targeting 650 000 lights for Mashonaland Central and Manicaland.

The project is running for five years and the first two years are for distribution of the lights. The organisation will start claiming carbon credits in the third year.

Deputy director Environment, Planning and Management Ms Gloria Denhere commended the coming in of more organisations to develop carbon credits.

She said the COP28 encouraged member countries to stop using fossil fuels and venture into renewable sources of energy.

“We welcome this development that our communities will stop using paraffin lamps and reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere,” she said.

“Any deliberate action to avoid emissions should be rewarded. She said conservation farming popularly known as Pfumvudza/Intwasa also falls under carbon credits what is needed is for it to be certified by the Gold Standard and packaged into a carbon credit project.”


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