By Wellington Zimbowa
AS the country grapples in its march for the 2030 Upper Middle Economy vision, virtual power stations have been identified as an apparatus with the potential to guarantee energy security, while boosting economic progress and salvaging the nation from millions of hard currency haemorrhage, through power imports annually.
Government’s energy policy, which is in line with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) energy guidelines, dovetails with Sustainable Development Goal 7, concerning the increase of renewable energy, while doubling the improvement of energy efficiency by 2030.
In 2019, Zimbabwe entered a US$15 million in a 300 Mega Watts power import deal from the regional pool, not including other imports from countries such as South Africa.
Speaking at the national inception policy workshop for energy efficiency in the capital, Energy and Power Development minister Soda Zhemu highlighted that virtual power stations were ideal in increasing savings and boosting economic productivity.
“It is cheaper to create a virtual power station, through energy efficiency initiatives than building new capacities,” said the minister.
Simply put, according to online sources, the virtual power plant is a system that integrates several types of power sources to give reliable overall power supply.
In this context, it can be said to be hinged on sparing use of electricity already in the national grid by consumers for use by other needy consumers.
Minister Zhemu highlighted that although Zimbabwe has an installed generation capacity of 2300MW, the country only produces 1100MW on a good day, complemented by imports ranging between 150MW and 400 MW.
He said such as scenario forces the country to resort to load shedding when push comes to shove, hence, the need to use resources sparingly.
Sparing use of electricity is based on the efficiencies of machines, gadgets and lighting.
In 2019 the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce’s survey noted that a total of ZWL$2.5m was being lost annually in total potential revenue, due to crippling power cuts.
Speaking at the same event, energy expert and Bindura University of Education (BUSE) lecturer Dr Chipo Shonhiwa, who is one of the consultants in the efficient development process said sparing virtual power stations are created by the sparing use of energy by consumers.
“When consumers use electricity sparingly such that the remaining energy remains in the grid and can be used by other consumers,” she said.
Dr Shonhiwa said the country can save millions of hard currency from importing power, through the virtual power station concept.
She said sparing use of energy by consumers will ensure that unused power that would have been already transmitted into the national grid will be open for use by other needy consumers, hence, avoiding wastages and power shortages.
Energy efficiency is set to improve power pricing, on top of increased power quality supply, a move to be gladly welcomed by business and residents consumers.
Zimbabwe joins other SADC countries in the national energy efficiency policy.
By Wellington Zimbowa