The Sunday Mail
THE Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) has raised the red flag over the influx of counterfeit solar system equipment on the local market.
This follows a recent survey by the energy sector regulator to assess the integrity of solar products being sold in the country.
The survey concluded that fake solar panels, inverters, bulbs and batteries have inundated the market.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail, ZERA chief executive officer Mr Edington Mazambani said the regulator would soon launch a blitz to weed out dealers selling fake products.
Demand for solar systems has skyrocketed as a result of limited power supplies and increased demand, particularly for industrial use and mining.
“As ZERA, we undertook a market inspection in retail shops that sell solar products and realised that most of them are offering fake products like solar panels, water heaters and inverters,” he said.
“To protect consumers, we are working on regulations that will compel retailers to sell original renewable energy products.
“We want to restore sanity in the energy sector, especially in renewable energy products.” In downtown Harare, he said, fake solar devices are selling for nearly half the price of genuine products.
ZERA, he added, will soon start auditing all solar products being imported into the country in a bid to eliminate substandard and counterfeit goods.
Renewable energy expert Mr Adam Kundishora said Government must inspect all solar product imports before they are introduced into the market.
“Regulatory bodies need to be empowered and supported with resources and manpower so that they effectively rein in these phoney products through testing and enforcement of regulations,” he said.
“Fake solar accessories undermine the uptake of solar products since the devices break down quickly, thus damaging consumers’ confidence in solar technology.”
Mr Isaac Tinago, who sells solar systems in central Harare, said retailers pushing genuine products are suffering at the hands of their counterparts selling counterfeits.
“More Zimbabweans, especially in urban areas, are embracing solar energy due to its reliability and cost-effectiveness,” he said.
“However, the market is now flooded with fake solar products that are undermining our business.
“Some unscrupulous dealers are selling solar panels that are inscribed 300 watts when, in fact, they only generate 200 watts or less.”
He urged Government to crack down on the unscrupulous dealers.