Zimbabwe should end fossil fuels, adopt renewable energy sooner

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By Partinella Ngozo

The potential of renewable energy is evident in Zimbabwe where solar, wind, hydro, and biomass resources are abundant. The endowment of such potential can be a game changer for Zimbabwe only if the government prioritise renewable energy, it has been revealed.

Speaking in an interview with this reporter, Climate Reality Leader and founder of Climate Justice Zimbabwe (CJZ), Perseverance Javangwe said that the there is need to go green and harness the potential of renewable energies in Zimbabwe sooner to reduce global warming.

“Climate Change is impacting hard on us as witnessed by extreme weather events, such as intense cyclones, with Cyclone Idai causing unbearable suffering, flooding and droughts with the most vulnerable being hit harder. Frequency in all these weather phenomena sometimes lead to human causality in great proportion apart from huge loss of property.

“The truth of the matter is that we don’t have time. The planet is calling for our action as soon as possible and we have to act with urgency. Zimbabwe has the potential to become one of Africa’s most vibrant renewable energy power house with the presents of Hydropower, biomass, solar and wind energy. In order to create employment the government should move fast and go green. This will also help in the creation of green jobs and our youths who are graduating can actually acquire work other than roaming the streets.

“We need to start introducing renewable energy in most of our companies, organisations, schools and in transportation. It’s high time we begin to phase out fossil fuels because they have caused untold suffering the people of Zimbabwe,” said Javangwe

A survey conducted by this publication revealed that Zimbabwe has geothermal energy potential of around 50 MW that has not been harnessed and presents scope for future exploitation. There is significant hydropower potential in the Eastern Highlands region of the country which also endowed with perennial rivers. Around 120MW of small hydropower potential is estimated in the country.

Based on IRENA reports, Zimbabwe has a total potential of 1000MW from biomass in the form of bagasse, agricultural and municipal waste, and forest residue. Forest residue has been estimated at 70000 tons which has the potential to generate nearly 150MW power. With regards to the wind potential in Zimbabwe, wind speeds of 3meters per second are not significant for power generation, but can be used for power pumping as per the National Energy Policy.

The solar potential of 16 to 20 MJ/m2/ day in Zimbabwe is vastly unexploited and is present in several regions of the country. Zimbabwe has a present installed capacity of 4.40MW that is well short of the potential.

With this kind of potential in renewable energy it is difficult to come to terms on how Zimbabwe still struggle to provide electricity to those in the rural areas. Renewable energy provides reliable power supplies and fuel diversification, which enhance energy security, lower risk of fuel spills, and reduce the need for imported fuels.

Javangwe stated that the health of Zimbabwe citizens is in jeopardy if the government does not urgently act of fossil fuels.

“Climate change affects our health such as clean air and water, sufficient and healthy food, natural constraints to infectious disease agents and the adequacy and security of shelter. This is why the government has to start phasing out fossil fuel now before it’s too late. We have to reach the targets of the Paris Agreement sooner and to do that we have to deal away with fossil fuels and make Zimbabwe the renewable powerhouse of Africa and even the world.

“The report of the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health points out that disadvantaged communities are likely to shoulder a disproportionate share of the burden of climate change because of their increased exposure and vulnerability to health threats. This is why I am saying, climate change is a matter of urgency, the government has to act as if we are in an emergence otherwise the vulnerable will continue to bear the brunt of climate change,” he said.

Renewable energy’s local and decentralized character as well as technology development generate important benefits for the economy and people. Renewable energy emits no or low greenhouse gases this helps reduce global warming.

Furthermore, renewable energy emits no or low air pollutants and this is better for our health. Instead of depleting precious resources and polluting the environment, renewable energy meets the objectives of a circular economy and is a strong motor for social and economic development.

Renewable energy development is vital for combating climate change and limiting its most devastating effects. 2019 was the second warmest year on record. The Earth’s temperature has risen by an average 0.85 Degrees Celsius since the end on the 19th century according to the National Geographic in its issue on climate change.

“Zimbabwe is also a signatory of that binding objective and for such should act accordingly. The Paris Agreement is possible to achieve but only if the government can phase out fossil fuels sooner. I am very optimistic that we can end the scourge against climate change but our government should act with urgency,” said Javangwe’

The transition to an energy system based on renewable technologies will have very positive economic consequences on the Zimbabwean economy and development.

Renewable energy is democratic and this is good for acceptance. Energy efficiency is a key step to reducing our impact on climate change and creating a sustainable energy future. There is need therefore, to leave the fossil fuel age behind us. And the time to do that is now!

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