Cooking a dinner, heating a house, lighting a street, keeping a hospital open, or running a factory – all these require energy. Energy is therefore at the heart of everybody's quality of life and a crucial factor for economic competitiveness and employment.
In Zambia, the local population and energy needs increase hand-in-hand and the current hydro based energy system is not adequate as it largely depends only on one power source which is the national grid from the Kariba Hydro power station.
Answers to this dual challenge of satisfying increasing energy needs and combating reducing dependency on hydro power at the same time are urgently needed and energy research can play an essential role.
Zambia cannot move towards sustainable growth without radical changes in the way it generates and uses energy.
The rural electrification Authority REA, working in tandem with Zesco has embarked on a solar energy programme which it took over from the department of energy in 2004.
REA Corporate affairs Manager Justin Mukosa says the programme is targeted at electrifying rural institutions such as the schools, health intuitions and palaces.
Mr. Mukosa adds though there a number of challenges in rolling out the programme, the authority is working hard to set up solar mini grids and other ideas in order to supply power to more areas.
Meanwhile Mr. Mukosa has described the solar energy system as the quite a good alternative source of energy other than hydro energy.
And Zesco says it equally support the use of other alternative sources of energy apart from the usual national grid which is powered by hydro energy.
Company Public relations officer Hennery Kapata says branching off from using hydro energy is not a bad idea as it also helps in serving electricity on the national grid.
Mr. Kapata was however quick tom mention that the company would prefer its customers use solar energy only as an alternative and not a permanent solution as Zesco largely depends of the revenue collected from the consumers of its product to run effectively.
Despite Solar energy not been so much appreciated in the country and probably in some parts of the world, it is the best alternative energy source as the sun is usually available compared to water which might dry out within a period of time.