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New Scheme to Deal with Harare’s Power Woes

As lingering droughts hit Southern Africa’s hydropower dams, Zimbabwe faces growing electricity shortages — but connecting individuals and businesses that have installed private solar panels to the national grid could help fill some of the gap. Zimbabwe’s net metering system, launched in 2020, allows people who produce private renewable energy to transfer their excess generation to the national grid in return for electricity credits they can use when they do not have sufficient renewable supply. The Southern African nation is suffering a prolonged power shortage, especially after its main Kariba hydropower plant cut electricity generation in December due to low water levels. Today the plant is generating only about a third of its installed capacity of 2,000MW. But some analysts and legislators have questioned whether the net metering system — with 117 active users and a total power capacity of 4.9MW at present — can be relied upon or scaled up sufficiently to genuinely address the worsening energy crisis. Zimbabwe has a target of generating 1,100MW of clean energy by 2025, and 2,100MW by 2030, but this has been hindered by a lack of investment by IPPs with the nation’s economy reeling.