The country’s usage of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) has been growing over the years with 2017 LPG imports in the first eight months of the year almost surpassing last year’s full figures. According to statistics provided by Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) the amount of imported LPG has grown to 24,97 million in 2016 from 6,6 million kgs in 2012 .
The trend has continued with 2017 imports nearing what was imported the whole of last year. LPG imports for the first eight months of the year have since reached 23,6 million kgs, 5,32 percent shy of what was imported the whole of last year. According to ZERA, there are 101 licenced Liquefied Petroleum Gas operators made up of 86 LPG retailers and 15 LPG wholesalers.
The retail price of gas has been fluctuating over the years between $1,30 and an average $2,00 currently. Cash challenges have also been a factor in the sector as wholesalers sometimes demand hard currency from retailers. Commenting on the quality of the gas coming into the country, ZERA said it monitors and regulate the quality of LPG in the country.
“The Authority has inspectors who conduct inspections, surveillance and monitoring of quality all LPG sites across the country. The Authority invested in equipment that test vapour pressure of LPG to ensure compliance to ZWS 965. The vapour pressure has to be within the range of 750 to 1050kpa and anything below that is an indication that the gas has been mixed with greater percentage of butane which result in the gas producing yellow flame and gets finished quickly,” said ZERA.
Apart from LPG, ZERA said it has rolled out several strategies to ensure increased use of renewable energy technologies in the country. The Authority said regulations for the National Solar Water Heating program are currently being reviewed whilst modalities are being put in place to establish and promote local production of solar water heating equipment as well as funding mechanism for a pilot project. As part of the initiative all solar equipment, except for batteries, are coming in duty free and this was enabled through SI 47 of 2010. Only VAT is payable on all products.
“Net metering regulations about to be gazetted will stimulate development of rooftop solar PV installations in the country,” said ZERA.
ZERA said the Independent Power Producer (IPP) Policy which is being developed has provisions and incentives for the development of renewable energy projects whilst the National Integrated Energy Resource Plan sets the target for renewables in the country’s generation mix.
“Rural Energy Master Plans developed by REA will coordinate and accelerate rural electrification using mostly renewable energy sources,” said the energy regulatory authority.