Zimbabwe looks to public to provide solar power amid energy crisis

A solar panel vendor waits for clients at a market, after Zimbabwe police banned an anti-government demonstration in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, August 19, 2019. REUTERS/ Philimon Bulawayo

What’s the context?

Zimbabwe wants to expand its net metering system to harness more renewable energy to the grid in the face of electricity shortages

  • Zimbabwe seeking solutions to worsening power crisis
  • Solar system owners encouraged to supply to the grid
  • High costs and logistical issues keep participation low

BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe – As lingering droughts hit southern Africa’s hydropower dams, Zimbabwe faces growing electricity shortages – but connecting individuals and businesses that have installed private solar panels to the national grid could help fill some of the gap.

Farmer Kalani Ndlovu, for instance, wants to expand his 13 kilowatt (KW) solar mini-grid – used to pump well water to fill a farm reservoir – and sell the excess power to the state.

But Ndlovu – who has a farm in Umguza, in Matabeleland North Province – worries about the cost of the device he needs to connect his mini-grid to the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), the state-owned distributor.