We believe that education is a great equalizer. I believe access to energy follows as a greater equalizer. Without access to energy, access to opportunities and services is limiting the atainament of SDG by 2030 for many.
Zambia has 2,800 MW of installed electricity generation capacity, of which 85% is hydro based. National access to electricity averages 70.6% of the urban and 8.1% of the rural population. The Government of Zambia (GRZ) set a goal for universal electricity access for all Zambians by 2030. This year Zambia goes through an independent SDG self review. Can solar power help to reach the SDG goal to provide electricity to all Zambians by 2030?
Zambia has abundant sunshine throughout the year, making it a great location for solar energy. In recent years, the Zambian government has recognized the potential of solar energy. The country has set a target of generating 500MW of solar power by 2025, which is a significant increase from the current installed capacity of 122 MW. To achieve this target, the government has implemented various policies and fiscal incentives to attract investment in the solar energy sector and encourage use of cleaner energy. In addition, the government has launched several solar projects in rural areas to provide access to electricity to remote communities through the rural electrification authority. These projects include the installation of solar mini-grids and solar home systems.
The private sector has also shown interest in investing in solar energy in Zambia. Several companies have installed solar systems for commercial and industrial use, such as in farming and mining operations. Panuka farm is an example of what a future Zambia farm can adopt with respect to powering farm activities with zero emission energy options. The Panuka farm is a great example of a farm 100% powered by solar 24hrs. It has 2 independent water systems arrange each using 400watts. Panula Office, cold storage and poultry business operations are fully powered by solar supported by 8 batteries.
Overall, the potential for solar energy in Zambia is infinite. The government and private sector now need to take bolder steps to harness this potential for solar energy production. , current allowable production unit is 1000 MW without base power from Hydro .
What else do we need to do to convert potential into reality, stop talking, start acting and investing. GRZ can quickly facilitate grid integration of solar so that in case the likes of Panuka produces excess solar they can sell it to the grid and if their solar equipment is down the grid provides back up.
With further investment and development, solar energy could play a major role in reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, saving forests and also unleashing education and employment opportunities especially in rural Zambia.