PLANS by the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) to set up a 0,5 megawatts solar power demonstration plant should be supported at all costs.
According to Nust vice-chancellor Lindela Ndlovu’s 2013 annual report, the university’s Technopark unit has completed a business plan for the plant to be built at the campus along Gwanda Road in Bulawayo.
The Technopark unit conducts outreach activities as a way of building bridges and partnerships with industrial and commercial organisations in the country.
One of the major objectives is to be a catalyst for the economic and social advancement of Zimbabwean society by stimulating economic growth and modernisation,the report says.
The Technopark has conducted groundbreaking research that has contributed to the economy of Bulawayo and the country at large.
However, the solar project would definitely be its largest undertaking so far.
Ndlovu’s report says the demonstration plant will provide all of Nust’s electricity needs during daytime and in turn earn revenue from an electricity off – take agreement between the project and the university.
The project would also be expanded to shore up national electricity supplies and Nust hopes to extended it to external large – scale consumers of electricity and generate revenues for expansion to meet a portion of the national electricity deficit.
The initiative by Nust is exactly what universities should be doing in communities where they operate.
Former British universities minister David Willetts once had this to say about universities: “They push forward the frontiers of knowledge. They transform people’s lives.
And they contribute to the health and wealth of our nation through their deep involvement in wider society and the economy,” he added.
The regulatory authorities and funders should lend Nust all the support it needs to get the project running as soon as possible.
Zimbabwe is grappling with an energy crisis that can only be addressed through innovation and adequate funding.
Nust deserves plaudits for taking the initiative and assuming its rightful place as the leading centre for innovation in the country.