The Sunday Mail
According to independent projections, in the next 15 years, more people will be using alternative sources of energy as the national grid fails to satisfy rising demand.
Zimbabwe has huge deposits of coal-bed methane gas in Matabeleland which, if fully utilised, can help alleviate power shortages.
It is a form of natural gas that is extracted from coal beds. Coal bed methane gas is a cleaner and environmentally friendlier alternative form of energy.
According to an exploration exercise by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), extensive deposits of coal-bed methane gas in the Hwange-Lupane basins are estimated to be over 23 billion cubic feet per square mile or 27 trillion cubic feet.
The exploration concluded that key requirements for extracting the gas such as content, coal seam thickness, lateral continuity, high gas saturation and adequate permeability have been discovered to be much better when compared to commercially producing basins in the United States.
Energy experts also concurred with IDC’s exploration findings that put some of the Matabeleland North gas at estimated 95 percent methane.
Government has since looked at various proposals to tap into this resource.
Currently, Discovery Investments Company (DIC) is understood to have completed its exploration exercise on about 100 000 hectares in Mzola and Dandanda communal lands in Lupane and Binga districts. Hopefully, DIC will soon establish mini-plants to extract the gas.
Another local consortium, Old Stone Investment, and China-based investor Shandong Taishan entered into a 50-50 agreement to establish an investment vehicle, China Africa Sunlight.
Under the joint company which is operating under Government special grant 5 538 project number 5 478, over US$2,1 billion will be invested in the next five years to set up seven state-of-the-art industrial plants in the Gwayi and Lupane areas with projected gross revenue running into several billion dollars annually when the projects are completed.
If implemented, these projects will turn Gwayi and Lupane into mega hubs of energy generation and industrial development, creating about 4 500 jobs.