3 July 2012

Zambia: Saving Energy, Embracing Green Economy in All Sectors

ZAMBIA's economy has drastically grown in the recent past resulting in the increasing demand for energy.

Mining, being the main-stay of the country's economy has contributed to this demand because it requires adequate supply of energy for sustained mining activities.

However, this growth cannot be sustained without saving energy and embracing the green economy in all sectors, especially mining.

The country's energy sector is endowed with enormous energy resources which include coal, hydro power, woodlands and forests as well as other renewable energy forms such as solar and wind but still experience serious power deficits.

The national installed capacity presently stands at 1,730 Mega Watts (MW) but the demand is over 2,000 MW.

To meet the demand, the Government is in the longer term developing power stations whose impact would be felt in future.

Currently, Government is working towards ensuring that new power stations such as the Kafue Gorge lower, the Kariba North Bank extension, and other up-grade projects are implemented in the shortest possible time to increase electricity generation capacity in order to meet the ever increasing demand.

For instance under the Zesco Power Rehabilitation Project (PRP), involves the rehabilitation and up-grading of the three major hydro power stations namely Kafue Gorge, Kariba North Bank and Victoria Falls.

The PRP overall objective is to support the Government's objectives of enhancing the ability of Zambia's electricity supply industry to provide electricity at a least cost and in an efficient manner to stimulate more and inclusive growth in the country's economy.

The major achievements of the PRP has been the rehabilitation and up-grading of the Kafue Gorge Power Station from 900 to 990MW, the reinstating of the Victoria Falls Power Station to its full generating capacity of 108 MW as well as the up-rating of the Kariba North Bank power station from 600 MW to 720 MW.

The total generation capacity yielded from the PRP is 210 MW.

The main hydro-power projects being implemented by ZESCO are Kariba North Bank Extension (360 MW) to be completed by 2013 and Kafue Gorge Lower Hydro Project (750 MW) to be completed by 2017.

The 750 MW Kafue Gorge Lower Hydro Power project is among the widely anticipated power projects not only in Zambia but the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) as it is expected to give the much needed relief to the power deficit and possibly turn Zambia into a regional power hub.

Itezhi-Tezhi Hydro Power Project (120 MW) will be completed in February 2015.

Other projects aimed at averting power deficit include the 120 MW Ithezhi-thezhi power project, rehabilitation of the 360 MW Kariba North Bank Station and the 750MW Kafue Gorge Lower project.

The private sector like the Copperbelt Energy Corporation has come on board where it is constructing the first Greenfield 40 MW Kabombo Gorge hydro-power project at a projected cost of US$ 160 million in North Western Province.

The project is aimed at contributing to averting the power deficit the country has been experiencing in the recent past.

The time line for the project which is situated on Kabompo River in Solwezi and Mwinilunga at the Kabompo Gorge is four years and when completed, it is expected to reduce the power deficit the country has been experiencing for some time.

So between now and the time the construction and rehabilitation of power station would be completed, it is important that the country adopt energy management practices that will not only benefit industry but individual households.

Saving on energy at national level entails re-directing the saved energy to other sectors of the economy while at individual level, it means more money in one's pocket because people will have more disposable income due to saving made from energy conservation.

"However, all this will be in vain if we do not change our approach in the manner we use energy," said Energy and Water Development Deputy Minister Charles Zulu when he officiated at the launch of the Energy Week in Kitwe last week.

Mr Zulu said there are a number of on-going initiatives to encourage energy substitution, conservation, and promotion of alternative energy sources which Government is spearheading.

Some of the initiatives include the installation of solar geysers instead of electric geysers, the Zesco's programme of distributing energy saving bulbs in households in Lusaka and the Copperbelt.

The introduction of the electricity prepaid meters which gives the consumer the power to control their energy consumption are other initiatives being promoted.

Another initiative is the blending ratios for bio-diesel and ethanol which will reduce on petroleum consumption.

"These efforts are all for a good cause but there are some challenges. For example there were some recent adverse media reports on energy saving bulbs," Mr Zulu said.

He urged the community to be part of the conscious effort to conserve energy which if well implemented could save this nation money that could be applied to other equally important needs.

Mr Zulu said going green also meant meeting environmental obligations which would help people leave a world habitable for future generations to come.

Save the Environment Organisation executive director Lusungu Nyirenda said conserving energy from less fossil fuel use will greatly reduces carbon emissions that contribute extensively to global warming.

Mr Nyirenda said air polluting smog emissions like nitrous oxides and sulfur dioxide will also be reduced by conserving energy from fossil fuel use, especially coal.

"Energy efficiency can help to provide homes for the needy. Vast amounts of energy would be saved by eliminating the necessity to build extra power plants and bigger generators," Mr Nyirenda said.

Mr Nyirenda said if every household saved 10 per cent of the kilowatt hours used, more energy would become available on the electrical grid in their area.

He said building more power plants would not be needed if this extra money is used to build homes in areas where plants already exist rather than in areas where new subdivisions require new power plants.

Mr Nyirenda said many countries in Africa, Zambia unexceptional were left behind in the development of green energy, bio-ethanol and power plants.

"We need to improve on that by bringing clean water to people in various countries in Africa because development is all about coming up with various initiatives to create a better environment and to secure the future of children," Mr Nyirenda said.

He said there is need for Government to invest hugely in the development of alternative energy.

Energy Regulation Board (ERB) executive director Butler Sitali said it is important to expand the energy mix so that the national security supply is enhanced.

Mr Sitali said there is need to constantly educate the masses on the use of alternative energy sources.

Zambia Environment Management Agency senior inspector Maxwell Chibinga said the agency would continue regulating balance energy need and environmental protection.

Mr Chibinga said there is need to invest in renewable energy that reduces carbon emissions and pollution, enhances energy and resource efficiency, and prevents the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Some of the pupils that took part in celebrating this year's Energy Week said investing in alternative sources of energy was the way to go.

Suwilanji Siliwimba, 13, a Grade eight pupil at Saint John's Convent School said the use of clean alternative energies such as the home use of solar power systems will help the country save more money.

Malala Hanyama, 11, a Grade seven pupil at Faith Christian Academy said energy conservation will help reduce global warming as it will prevent the ozone layer from getting damaged.

"Saving energy will also reduce our bills and help keep cost generating energy down, Malala said.

With all said, mining industry being a major consumer of energy needs to move towards using energy efficient technology so that the excess energy can be made available to other sectors and also as a way of mitigating climate change.

Failure to do so will have serious repercussions on all of us. Therefore let's all join hands in adopting a win-win situation for the country.

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