By OLIVER SAMBOKO
GOVERNMENT should roll out an ambitious programme to construct solar power stations in all provinces to cushion electricity deficit in the country, an energy expert Victor Hazemba has said.
Currently, Zambia has an installed capacity of over 2, 300MW that is mainly produced through hydro-power generation but due to low water levels, the country has been producing less electricity.
Mr Hazemba said in May this year, the state-power utility company Zesco signed contracts worth $548 million with Power China to develop three solar power plants that would have added 600 megawatts (MW) to the national grid, but to date the projects have not kicked off.
He said Government should not only depend on the Kafue Lower Gorge and the planed 2, 400MW Batoka Gorge power scheme by a consortium led by Power Construction Corporation of China (Power China) and General Electric (GE), to end loadshedding in the country but diversify into solar if the country was to be energy power secure.
Mr Hazemba said solar power was the right step towards diversifying renewable energy for Zambia, which relies heavily on hydropower and has faced electricity shortages partly because of droughts.
“The public is aware that the power deficits that resulted from low electricity production forced Government, through Zesco, to spend in excess of US$250 million on emergency power imports from 2015. If this money was spent on setting up solar power plants, the power deficit was going to be minimised,” he said.
He said the current power supply deficit of over 810MW since last year, was negatively affecting economic activities and therefore Government should fast-track the construction of solar power generation stations as part of its support towards green energy projects.
Zambia has suffered power cuts due to her heavy reliance on hydropower from plants at the Kariba Dam on the Zambezi River, which water authorities say is running dry fast and currently at less than 20 percent.
By OLIVER SAMBOKO