Zimbabwe: Zim Launches Renewable Energy, Biofuels Policies

19 March 2020

Government has launched the National Renewable Energy Policy (NREP) and the Biofuels Policy of Zimbabwe (BPZ), documents that will guide the investment and production of clean energy alternatives in the country.

The policies emanate from the National Energy policy of 2012 and seeks to achieve a 33 percent reduction in greenhouse carbon emissions by 2030.

Launching the policies, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the blueprints will give guidance towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 7 that ensures affordable and sustainable energy.

"This will go a long way towards Sustainable Development Goal number 7 which seeks to ensure affordable and clean energy," Renewable energy has been a good option and a preferable energy throughout the world," he said.

The renewable energy policy will widen the scope of energy sources, diverging from the traditional fossil fuels currently in use.

Zimbabwe is currently grappling to produce sufficient energy, a situation that had led to daily 16 hours of load shedding across the country.

This has affected business drastically.

However, to lure investment under the NREP, licensing timelines for prospective investors will be reduced from the current six months. However there is no specification of how brief the timelines will be.

Grid connection approvals for producers of renewable energy will be expedited.

Furthermore, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for production of 5 MW and below will be relaxed while for the other categories, the (EIA) timelines will be shortened.

All renewable energy projects will be given National Project Status while incentives in the forms of tax holidays of 5 percent for the initial five years and 15 percent thereafter will be awarded.

Over the years Zimbabwe has had lacklustre investment into its energy sector due to viability issues and to address this, net metering- billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the grid will be put in place.

Local communities in which these producers operate will receive 1 percent of total revenue for community development.

This will be complemented by the fact that all producers will have to employ a minimum of 40 percent of their workforce from the local community.

All new buildings will be mandated to host a solar geysers.

The Biofuels policy is focusing on import substitution of petrol by promoting production of liquid biofuels.

"We target to improve our ethanol blending ratio to 20 percent by 2030. Again we want our biofuel to reduce greenhouse gas emission by 33 percent," Energy and Power Development Minister, Fortune Chasi told dignitaries at the launch.

This is expected to save the country from importing around 700 000 liters of petrol per day using current consumption levels where the country needs 3.3 million liters a day.

The two documents' success will however need strong collaboration within a network of players ranging from local authorities who have to avail land for these projects, finance institutions who will ensure availability of affordable capital among other key players.

Investment into renewable energy projects have been forthcoming recently particularly from local companies.

Last year, telecommunications company, Econet Wireless, through its energy business, Ugesi Energy, launched a $45 million solar power rural electrification program under the first phase, targeting 100 growth points across the country.

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