“Zimbabwe Will Not Totally Eliminate Use Of Coal”

Zimbabwe is set to grant licences to investors in new coal-mining ventures to fire electricity power stations despite a push by the industrialised North to shift to cleaner energy sources. The Kariba hydroelectric power station is currently generating a fraction of its installed capacity due to drought and as a result, Zimbabwe has to depend more on coal-fired power stations.


Responding to questions from the Independent on how Zimbabwe is dealing with pressure from organisations like the Group of Seven (G7), who are planning to phase out support for new investment in oil, gas and coal projects by the end of this year, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, Gloria Magombo, said:


We acknowledge that coal is a critical component of our energy mix. With droughts, coal (power stations) — especially Hwange — has been able to push 1 000MW.


It has been an anchor. We believe over time, we will continue to use coal. We also have our decarbonisation plans, which are within the 2050 horizon, which most countries have put in place.


I think this is a position, which is carried by most African countries that are using coal.


We are saying within this horizon of up to 2050, we will come up with a clear decarbonisation strategy, which will also consider how best we can convert carbon dioxide from our coal plants — either orchestrating it through carbon sinking, which is expensive, but also through planting more forests to absorb that carbon dioxide through photosynthesis.


The idea is to be net zero, not to totally eliminate the use of coal.


Coal is the most carbon-intensive fuel, contributing significantly to greenhouse gas emissions which have been linked to climate change.


Over the past few decades, there has been a push for the adoption of renewable energy options, such as solar and wind which are more cost-effective and sustainable for electricity generation. Added Magombo:


It is not all gloom with regard to coal. If you look at most of the renewable energy programmes, there is always a push for carbon capture and carbon sequestration as an area of serious innovation.


Some of these countries, which have already stopped the use of coal, exhausted their coal reserves.