PRESIDENT Mnangagwa said he is disappointed by delays in implementing several renewable energy projects despite the fact that the investors were awarded special permits by Government.
He told delegates attending the 3rd International Renewable Energy Conference and Expo here yesterday that the country has vast investment opportunities in the clean energy sector, which are yet to be fully exploited.
These include the vast coal-bed methane (CBM) gas, which is yet to be commercially exploited due to lack of adequate quantification and processing capacity.
In Zimbabwe CBM reserves are mainly found in the Lupane, Gwayi and Hwange areas in Matabeleland North as well as in Mashonaland Central province.
The use of gas has come under spotlight as a viable alternative source of energy with a spike in global demand recently as countries gradually shift away from reliance on coal-fired power stations in line with climate change adaptation.
Harnessing opportunities from CBM, solar, wind, biogas and hydro systems is therefore critical for Zimbabwe as it diversifies its energy mix in the context of subdued domestic generation capacity and the need to enhance regional power supply.
President Mnangagwa said he was disappointed by slow implementation of the renewable projects which he said were very critical given the challenges of climate change.
“Investment opportunities exist through the exploitation of our vast reserves of coal bed methane and the natural gas especially here in Matabeleland North province as well as in Mashonaland Central province.
I’m disappointed that there is a long list of companies given permits to exploit the gas but are not found on the ground.
In this regard, I exhort those with special permits to expedite the quantification and extraction of coal-bed methane for the production of clean energy,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said it was also disheartening that a number of licensed renewable energy independent power producers are taking too long to set up shop.
“The necessary modalities must be improved to ensure that licensed power projects are quickly implemented otherwise we might be forced to give regulations that demand timelines of implementation,” said President Mnangagwa.
In keeping with global energy infrastructure trends, President Mnangagwa said, Government was keen to adopt new and novel energy systems in line with the country’s climate change adaptation commitments.
He commended commitment by the African Development Bank and World Bank, in particular, to assist the country to implement the renewable energy policy.
“Easy and equal access to the Green Energy Fund in order to accelerate the adoption and urgent implementation of renewable energy projects remains key,” said President Mnangagwa.
“At the regional level, the launch of the Green Hydrogen Atlas for Southern Africa is a notable development, especially in relation to the use of green hydrogen in fertiliser manufacturing, the transport sector and power generation in general.”
The President appealed to potential partners to invest in the local production of various renewable energy solutions and products such as solar water heaters, solar panels and energy storage equipment like lithium batteries.
Zimbabwe has abundant lithium resources.
President Mnangagwa also challenged the country’s universities to play ball in unlocking the energy transition by developing new and innovative technologies of energy supply through their innovation hubs and industrial parks.
“My expectation is that after this conference, more projects will be implemented towards Zimbabwe becoming a net exporter of energy into the region.
Working together, we will achieve energy security, which is critical for economic stability and growth.”
Meanwhile, the President urged the media sector to play its part in disseminating information on pertinent issues that drive the national development agenda and promote a higher quality of life for all people.
“This must include information relating to climate change and the sustainable generation and use of renewable energy, towards a ‘Net Zero Country’ and indeed a ‘Net Zero Africa’,” he said.