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Legislators push for solar power use to curb pollution

STUDIES conducted in Tanzania have shown that the country has a potential to generate 1,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity through solar, the Minister for Energy, Dr Medard Kalemani, revealed on Thursday.

Dr Kalemani made the remarks shortly before the National Assembly ratified the Framework Agreement on the Establishment of the International Solar Alliance (ISA).

The Minister explained that the alliance was established following proposals presented by the government of India, after which it was launched by India’s Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi and the then President of France, Mr Francois Hollande.

ISA was launched at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) on the sidelines of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which was held in Paris in November, 2015.

Formation of the alliance was aimed at enabling countries, particularly those in the tropic zone, to undertake investments in eco-friendly energy, especially solar, he explained.

“The move is aimed at reducing environment pollution caused by carbon emissions, such as use of charcoal for cooking. The alliance as well seeks to enable countries to develop technologies for solar power towards renewable energies,” he explained.

Dr Kalemani noted that the National Energy Policy of 2015 recognizes the importance of utilizing various sources of energy to create energy mix.

Solar is among affordable sources of energy, where one unit of electricity is generated at 103/-, while hydropower remains the cheapest at just 36/-per unit, he stated.

The Minister noted that it was due to the importance of solar that the government has allocated 38bn/-during the current financial year to support various solar power projects across the country.

Dr Kalemani admitted however that the use of solar for electricity in Tanzania remains minimal, with only 5 MW being generated for some areas which are off the national grid.

Contributing to the framework, Malindi MP, Mr Ali Salehe (CUF), said Tanzania has huge potential for power generation through solar, describing it as among ‘sunshine countries.’ “Tanzania receives sunshine almost throughout the year, and yet it utilizes very little of it, while some temperate countries such as Germany and Norway are among leading producers of the energy,” the MP argued.

Special Seats MP, Ms Ruth Mollel (Chadema), pointed that despite being eco-friendly, solar energy is suitable in areas which are not connected to the national electricity grid.

“Tanzania signed the agreement for ISA in 2015, but took very long to ratify it. India has made significant achievement by immediately ratifying the protocol,” the veteran technocrat-turnedopposition legislator remarked.

Muleba South MP, Prof Anna Tibaijuka (CCM), and Tanga Urban MP, Mr Musa Mbarouk (CUF), urged the government to invite the private sector to invest in solar energy in remote areas since the Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (TANESCO) cannot supply power to all areas.

Presenting views of the opposition, Special Seats MP, Ms Tunza Malapo (Chadema), was impressed that the framework will enable countries to reduce use of fossil fuels which have been blamed for fueling climate change.

The Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Energy and Minerals, Mr Dunstan Kitandula (Mkinga-CCM), proposed that all public buildings should be installed with solar power as an alternative source of energy.

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Author: ALVAR MWAKYUSA in Dodoma

1 Comments

  • avatar
    Mayank Bhargava
    22/11/2019

    Electricity generation cost from solar is dependent upon size, solar insolation and grid stability. A single solar field of 250 MW installation can lower generation cost between Tsh 140-165/kWh if connected to the national grid. A smaller 5MW solar plant operating in an isolated mini-grid environment with grid fluctuations & interruptions will lead to generation cost between Tsh 255-270 per unit. Of course, even this is just 1/3rd of the generation cost from imported diesel. Tanzania has to add renewable energy to its generation mix.

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