By FRANK MUKUPA
The Rural Electrification Authority (REA) has signed an agreement with Zambia Co-operative Federation (ZCF) that will enable REA tap into the electricity generation resource from solar milling plants installed across the country.
Speaking at the signing ceremony in Lusaka yesterday REA chief executive officer Clement Silavwe said the partnership would increase access to electricity in rural areas while ZCF would achieve its objective of increasing revenue streams for the cooperation they superintend.
“We understand that as at today ZCF has installed Ober 1, 500 solar milling plants, which generate up to 15kw of electricity per plant.
Out of this, the milling machine only utilises up to 7.5kw,” he said.
Mr Silavwe said this left 7.5kw in unutilised, which translates to about 12 megawatts of unutilised electricity across the country.
He said this partnership would enable REA to tap into the resource to provide electricity to communities where the solar milling plants were located.
“Incidentally, as you hear grid extension comes with losses which are minimized by those off grid solutions.
The type of partnership is important as it encourages prudent use of public resources by avoiding duplication through cooperation between various government agencies,” he said.
Mr Silavwe said this was in line with the aspirations of the Seventh National Development Plan which encourages integrated development planning as REA pursues the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically SDG 7 which advocates provision of clean energy.
Mr Silavwe said among the activities under the deal, REA would work with ZFC and respective cooperatives to undertake needs and market assessments to ascertain the viability and sustainability for each solar milling plant site.
He said REA would develop energy storage solutions for the excess electricity from the solar milling plants for distribution to the targeted beneficiary communities.
“REA will develop distribution lines to evaluate the excess electricity from the solar milling plants to the targeted beneficiaries.
REA in conjunction with ZCF and respective cooperatives will develop and design site-specific technical solutions that will ensure proper technical solutions that will ensure proper utilization of excess solar energy from the solar milling plants,” he said.
Mr Silavwe said REA and ZCF would encourage EV charging and appropriate banking services to be set up.