LIQUEFIED petroleum gas imports jumped 67 percent between January and June this year, indicating growth in the use of alternative heating energy compared to electricity, statistics from Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority show.
Zera chief executive officer Engineer Gloria Magombo told The Herald Business by email that LPG imports increased to 2,5 million kilograms in June from 1,5 million kg in January.
This shows Zimbabwean consumers now realised the benefits of using LPG as an alternative source of energy as part of managing their energy bills, which has prompted the regulator to increase awareness on the use of LPG.
LPG is a cleaner form of energy mainly for heating and cooking compared to kerosene and wood fuel. The use of LPG also contributes to a reduction in use of wood fuel and lessens pressures on the national electricity grid. “There is increased use of LPG at household level in the country as evidenced by increased imports of gas. LPG imports currently average about 2,5 million kg per month from around 1,5 million kg per month in January 2017.
“The increase in usage is attributed to the realisation by consumers that LPG is a safe alternative source of energy for lighting, cooking and heating especially this winter period.
“The awareness campaign is meant to buttress the need for safe use of LPG and to allay any fears that consumers might have about the product,” said Eng Magombo.
Initially, there was generally apathy over adopting LPG as a form of energy largely because of perceived safety concerns. However, Eng Magombo said only one death and eight injuries have been recorded since 2014, which shows LPG is safe to use in all safety precautions are properly observed.
In all the cases, lack of knowledge regarding the use of LPG were the cause of accidents, and Zera investigations revealed that such accidents occurred when consumers bought LPG from unlicensed or illegal retailers.
Many people are now turning to LPG for cooking and heating, due to lower costs averaging $7,50c per 5kg of gas. It is argued that a family of four can use 5kgs in a month, if not slightly more, implying they would have used $7.50c compared to almost $30 for grid electricity.
Eng Magombo said the cost of saving power was higher with more consumers switching to LPG for cooking and heating, among other energy efficiency measures.
With Zimbabweans using about 2500 tonnes per of gas per month for cooking and heating, it is estimated that 104,4 megawatts of grid electricity would be saved if LPG was used.
With more consumers embracing gas as a form of energy, the regulator had issued 16 wholesale or import licences, and 126 retail licences as at December 31, 2016. From January to the end of February 2017, Zera had licensed 44 retailers and eight wholesalers or importers.