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ZESA explores alternative power sources due to ‘no new coal’ agenda

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) is exploring alternative power sources in response to the call to move away from coal-fuelled power plants under the global ‘no new coal’ agenda.

This was revealed by ZESA Holdings executive-chairman Dr Sydney Gata during a recent tour of the Zimbabwe Power Company in Hwange.

A significant share of the world’s pollution comes from just a few countries, for instance, the US is responsible for almost 14% of all global emissions.

It is quite unfortunate that Zimbabwe is finding itself at the receiving end of the new global regulations on thermal power, thus fast becoming a victim of the move away from coal, reports The Herald.

Addressing the media, Gata lamented the potential loss of the abundant resource to the new global code of practice that is driving the world towards reduced carbon emissions by industries, further citing that the “no new coal agenda” will exterminate the market of the resource worldwide.

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Zimbabwe finds itself in a Catch 22 as one of its fore-funders (China) has since heeded the call for “no new coal agenda” thus halting its financing schemes particularly to the coal resource-rich Southern Africa.

“On the coal issue it is a sad story really for Southern Africa especially for countries that are rich in this mineral resource, but for the time being the door has been shut on coal power plants.

“Nobody will finance them, in fact, we were going to benefit quite a lot if the financing was still available. In Europe and also in America but especially in China where they have decommissioned dozens of these power plants. We longer have a market,” said Gata.

The executive chairman was, however, quick to point out some of the alternatives his company had “up the sleeve” to compensate for the looming power gap given that coal-powered plants were central to Zimbabwe’s energy mix.

ZESA exploring plasma gasification

“The door has shut down on coal, so we have to look at alternative technologies and we are investigating with partners from South Korea to explore plasma gasification of municipal waste, which has marginal consequences on the environment.

“This (is) a project we are already in a development study phase in Harare and we are probably going to extend it to Bulawayo because that facility will be located in big cities which discharge a lot of municipal waste which will be the fuel to the technology,” said Gata.

Plasma gasification is an emerging technology that can process landfill waste to extract commodity recyclables and convert carbon-based materials into fuels.

Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe are some of the countries that have proceeded with coal power plant plans despite the global “no new coal” agenda.

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These five African countries are part of a group of 21 countries that have more than one new coal power plant at the planning stage.

The five African countries all have projects that are seeking financing from China and now face an uncertain future following calls to move away from coal.

Zimbabwe has access to vast and diverse possible energy resources which include about 12 billion metric tonnes of coal and hydropower potential concentrated along the Zambezi River.

However, massive efforts are being established to tap into solar power potential.

Nomvuyo Tena
Nomvuyo Tena is a Content Producer at Clarion Events Africa and is as passionate about the energy transition in Africa as she is about music and Beyonce.