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THE Harare Institute of Technology (HIT) is now focusing on mass production and commercialisation of its solar panels after managing to design a functional solar panel prototype.

The development, a partnership between HIT’s Industrial and Manufacturing Department and Sondar Technologies, could be a turning point in accelerating access to smart energy in the country.

The panels, which are manually designed through reverse engineering, demonstrate innovation and creativity, according to project leader, Engineer Emmanuel Ndala.

“So far, we have managed to design a 145 and 245watt which we have made right here without any machines. We are appreciating the fitness of the prototype. We have done basic testing and looking at the possibility of commercialisation for and mass production that is where we are. These are purely manually made and as far as electrical parameters are concerned we are certified and now testing water and dust proof-ness,” he said.

Their target has been to produce a huge solar power plant which requires a huge capital outlay but could be a huge foreign currency earner through the   potentially viable regional source market

“Government has done a lot to have a viable sector, thereby we need to tap into that. Where we are in the region (sub-Saharan) people have not tapped into this, but we into a stage where we need linkages for machinery as the plan is to have 30 megawatts annual production upon completion of the plant. Commercialisation this with our production will save costs.”

The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority has been licencing independent producers and distributers of solar energy to add to the national grid.

The breakthrough at the institute could certainly change the fortunes of both the rural and urban population in access to clean energy and reducing the country’s import bill.