22 November 2016

Zimbabwe: Govt to Solve Solar Land Tenure Issues

GOVERNMENT is working on solving land tenure issues for solar farms after it emerged that some investors were being given five-year leases, too short for investors to recoup their investments. Solar is one of the major renewable sources of energy expected to help ease the power shortages in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe requires about 1 400MW, but current generation is around 1 000MW with the balance being accounted for through imports from regional power utilities.

But the availability, licensing and operations of major solar projects was being compromised by the short leases prospective investors were being given. Also, the unavailability of long leases was affecting potential investment in some cases.

Having realised this, Government departments are now engaging to find common ground on the solar farm issues. Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority chief executive Engineer Gloria Magombo told stakeholders at a conference on financing energy that Energy and Power Development Ministry was engaging the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement to find a solution to issues relating to solar farms.

"I know the ministry is working with the Ministry of Lands on the issue of solar farms in terms of how we co-ordinate. We have been talking about land tenure issues, the actual linking of the licenses which we are issuing to the people want to do solar farms and also the lease agreements on some of the lands," said Eng Magombo.

"Because there was a mismatch at one time where we were having people who want to do solar farms being given five-year leases. But all that is now being co-ordinated." The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company estimates demand for power to surge to 3 500MW by 2020.

The Ministry of Energy and Power Development says that the energy sector in Zimbabwe presents immense investment opportunities, be it in power development, petroleum supply or in the renewable energy sub sectors.

It says that Zimbabwe has high solar irradiation averaging 200 Megajoules per square metre. Solar energy can be harnessed for pumping drinking water for rural communities, electricity production , powering lights and appliances at rural institutions (schools and clinics),and water heating in urban areas.

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