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ZERA conducts stakeholder net metering awareness workshop

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ZERA conducts stakeholder net metering awareness workshop


Ellen Mlambo

MASVINGO-The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) is conducting nationwide stakeholder awareness workshops on net metering and energy efficiency.
The workshops are being held to educate the public on the importance of net metering to address the power supply deficit gap in the country.
The awareness workshops began in March and have been held in Bulawayo, Gweru and Mutare.
The workshop was held yesterday at Flamboyant, a Regency Group Hotel in Masvingo. The next stop is Beitbridge on Friday.
Net metering is a billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the grid.
ZERA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Edington Mazambani said his organisation recognises the country’s current electricity supply deficit evidenced by the load shedding.
“We recognise that we have a supply deficit in terms of electricity in the country. It has improved a bit, but we are still experiencing load shedding. After realising that there is a gap in the country, we thought complementing what our utility is already working on allows consumers to transition to proconsuming. This also gives them an advantage of ensuring consistent energy supply and helping the country close the energy gap,” said Mazambani.
He said currently, six megawatts are being fed into the national grid through net metering, with several applications still under consideration which will generate about eight megawatts. He added that they are targeting at least 20 megawatts of net-metered capacity.
“An excess of six megawatts is being generated and fed into the national grid. There are applications under consideration for about eight megawatts. This means that we should have at least 14 megawatts on the national grid coming from net metering,” he said.
Mazambani also reiterated that the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission Distribution Company (ZETDC) this year is running a promotion where they provide free net meters to consumers, which were one of the inhibiting costs of the net metering concept.
He added that a study undertaken by a contracted consultant in 2016 reviewed that if energy is used efficiently, the country could save up to 300 megawatts.
“We would want to undertake an exercise as the authority to go to people whom we train in energy efficiency management and audit and quantify their initiatives and see whether we are moving towards harnessing the 300 megawatts,” he added.
ZERA Renewable Energy Engineer Tobias Mudzingwa said Harare has the highest number of clients who are net-metered. Masvingo only has the National Pharmaceutical Company of Zimbabwe (NatPharm) under net metering contributing 200 kilowatts. Mudzingwa said there are two applications under consideration.
He added that some net metered customers include Econet Wireless Msasa with a 100 KW solar system, Schweppes Zimbabwe with a 1 MW rooftop solar installation and Nat Pharm with a 200 Kw rooftop solar installation in Masvingo.
“Considering Zimbabwe has the abundant solar resource, stakeholders are encouraged to utilise north-facing rooftops for solar power voltage installations. The threshold capacity was extended from 100 kW to five MW. Accrued energy credits will be rolled over only for a period to be determined by the authority from time to time as opposed to perpetual rollover,” said Mudzingwa.
He added that power shortages experienced in the country are a result of a rise in electricity demand in the wake of limited local generation capacity and imports.

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