The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) in Zimbabwe has set plans to erect panels at strategic places within the Central Business District to harvest solar energy.
Key buildings in the city, Tower Block and Revenue Hall; the nerve center of the local authority’s operations, have been operating without electricity for about 8 years after they were disconnected from the power grid by ZESA owing to a huge debt, which at the time was about US $9m.
The local authority had to purchase generators to power the buildings, with the generators reportedly gobbling about 300 litres of diesel on a daily basis.
Now the local authority is, according to the latest council minutes, toying around the idea of installing solar panels in certain parts of the city’s CBD.
Some of the identified locations include, top of the Tower Block, top of the Revenue Hall, the parking area in front of the Tower Block and Revenue Hall, BCC Stores-Building tops and open spaces, City Hall Car Park, Top of the City Hall and the BCC Workshop. The solar panels will be mounted and the solar energy be transmitted for sale or own use.
However, some within the local authority did not support the idea. While the submission was technically sound, the space outside Tower Block was an extension of a road and was meant for public use.
“The aesthetic beauty of Tower Block will be greatly compromised once we erect structures in the middle of the road, Tower block and the City Hall parking lot,” said an official from the Electro-Mechanical department.
The Town Planning department, said the City Hall and Tower Block car park should not be defaced by putting up unsightly solar structures.
Nevertheless, the Chairperson of the Town, Lands and Planning Committee, Councillor Collet Ndhlovu said that such projects should also be extended to other areas such as Cowdray Park Hlalani kuhle which could also benefit from such development.