Government has made significant progress in the crafting of a bio-gas policy for Zimbabwe, a move which is expected to promote the use of alternative sources of energy and potentially reduce the current energy deficit.
Energy and Power Development Minister Samuel Undenge told parliamentarians yesterday that his ministry is formulating renewable energy policies, strategies and action plans to promote the use and uptake of renewable energy technologies.
“The Ministry is now in the process of developing comprehensive renewable energy and bio-fuel policies which will have guidelines, strategies, action plans, targets and incentives for promotion of the use of renewable energy; working with research institutions in the country such as SIRDC and Agricultural Research Institution, carrying out research and development on renewable energy technologies and identifying, developing and facilitating implementation of renewable energy and energy conservation technologies and techniques,” he said.
Zimbabwe already has a National Energy Policy, which briefly touches on renewable energy and biofuels. But market watchers have been urging Government to create a conducive environment for bio-gas use and investment.
Biofuels are slowly becoming popular in most advanced nations due to rising oil prices and the need for energy security.
For decades, Brazil has turned sugarcane into ethanol, and some of their cars run on pure ethanol rather than as additive to fossil fuels. Biodiesel, a diesel-like fuel commonly made from palm oil, is also available in Europe.
In Zimbabwe, however, the uptake is still slow and only ethanol fuel is currently in use at the instigation of the government which crafted a law that enforced mandatory blending.
Minister Undenge said pilot projects to promote awareness of the renewable energy technologies are already underway.
The European Union (EU) has expressed interest establishing a biogas plant in Mbare and the country also has biogas digesters in Matabeleland North and South that were set up by the Roman Catholic Church, but are no longer operational.
Biogas is a non-renewable energy that uses waste as a form of fuel. The renewable energy is mainly used for cooking and lighting.
Biogas is currently being used by institutions such as Harare Central Hospital, Chikurubi, Pig Industry Board and Roosevelt Girls High School.