Regional body hails Malawi progress on solar energy

Regional body hails Malawi progress on solar energy

Representatives from the Regional Energy Regulators Authority (Rera) have hailed the progress Malawi has made in developing its solar energy systems, but a local energy expert says more needs to be done to optimise performance.

The remarks were made on Tuesday when representatives from Rera, a regional body of energy regulators in southern Africa based in Windhoek, Namibia, toured the JCM Energy Plant in Salima.

Some the solar equipment that generates power into the national grid

The tour was held as part of the Rera meetings hosted by the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera).

In an interview on the sidelines of the tour, Rera executive director Elijah Sichone said he was happy with the progress that local energy authorities have made in developing a large-scale solar energy plant to complement the country’s hydro-electric power (HEP) system.

He said: “The tour helped us appreciate what it takes to set up a solar energy plant. We also discussed some issues that we need to consider when licensing energy projects like this such as how we dispose of the solar panels at the end of the energy plant’s life span.

“We also discussed how best we can facilitate investment in renewable energy technologies to see how we can develop more projects such as these and close the energy gap in Africa… If we want energy security in Africa, then we have to diversify our energy sources and solar presents an option for diversification.”

Currently, the JCM power plant provides about 60 megawatts (MW) of power, representing about 12 percent of the country’s total installed capacity. At least 390.55MW is hydro-generated and 51.4 MW is from thermal diesel generators.

Speaking separately, Rodgers Munyang’wa, senior manager for research and pricing at the Energy Regulation Board of Zambia, said the excursion to Malawi provided some valuable insights on how governments can use Independent Power Purchases to close the energy gaps in their countries.

He said: “We know that the government does not always have the resources to finance energy projects to meet the demand on the continent. So, if we can bring in private investors to produce power, it can help meet the energy demand and even create opportunities for energy exports and revenue generation.”

Mera director of electricity and renewable energy Patrick Kadewa said while Malawi has progressed in using renewable technologies, there is a need to transition to more efficient forms of production.

He said: “The current system does not use batteries to store energy. So, when we have a disruption, either through cloud cover or any other adverse weather event, we have power imbalances that may even lead to blackouts.

“So, we will have to upgrade our systems to incorporate batteries to store power in the event of a power shortage.”

Malawi has several energy projects, including the 361 megawatt Mpatamanga Hydropower project to boost energy access.

The post Regional body hails Malawi progress on solar energy first appeared on Nation Online.

The post Regional body hails Malawi progress on solar energy appeared first on Nation Online.