Zimbabwe imported US$29.03 Million worth of Electrical Energy during the period January to July 2019 only. Zimbabwe has recently been characterized with power cuts due to load shedding, this has negatively affected its Industry whilst it has vast coal deposits and large potential in renewable energy generation. There is evidence that Zimbabwe can generate electricity through renewable means such as Hydro, Solar, Biomass, Wind and Geothermal Energy. Let’s take a look on the feasibility of some Renewable Energy Generating methods based on past researches:
- Solar Energy Potential
Zimbabwe is said to have one of the best solar regimes worldwide, with an average high direct insolation of 2,100 kWh/m2 per year and minimum cloud cover. Therefore the potential for solar PV and solar water heaters is enormous. Solar utilization for Residential and commercial use has been gaining much momentum, there is however need for more private players to venture in solar energy generation for industrial use.
- Wind Energy Potential
Around 2014 the NGO ZERO, a regional environmental initiative, financed some 1 and 4 kW wind turbines for an off-grid feasibility study, as well as providing power to municipal buildings such as clinics. Areas around Bulawayo, Gweru and some pockets in the Eastern Highlands, have potential for power generation application, since the most prevalent wind speeds in these regions range from 4 to 6 m/s. around 2017, Renewable Energy Market Study Zimbabwe Booklet reported that Efforts were underway through the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority to assess wind potential at heights of 80m. According to hydroquebec.com the minimum wind speed requires to generate electricity is generally 12-14km/hr (3.33-4 m/s) and at strong winds of 50-60km/hr (14-17 m/s) turbines operate at full capacity.
- Hydropower Energy Potential
In Zimbabwe, the gross theoretical hydropower potential is 18,500 GWh/year, and the technically feasible potential is 17,500 GWh/year of which about 19% has been exploited. Beside the large hydro power plants, there is potential for small-hydro across the country, estimated at 120 MW. Some hydro power plants are located at Rusito (750 kW), Kwenda (80 kW), Sithole-Chikate (30 kW), Svinurai (10 kW), Mutsikira (10 kW), Nyafaru (40 kW), Aberfoyle (30 kW) and Claremont (250 kW)
- Biomass Energy
Biomass energy resources are from bagasse from sugar cane waste, forestry residue (70 000 tons/a with an energy potential of 150 MW) and sawmill dust (14000 GWh/a). The majority of this waste is currently burned in the open air or dumped. Also the vast livestock population offers great potential for using biogas from animal waste for electricity generation. Some of the inputs for Biomass can potentially come from: Fuel wood 5654000 tons/a, Forestry Residue 2300000 tons/a, Sawmill waste 750 000 tons/a, Bioethanol 100 – 140 million liters/a (currently being produced), Animal waste 4481000 tons/a, Crop residue 10862000 tons/a Municipal Solid Waste 957 000 tons/a (Total for Harare, Chitungwiza, Bulawayo, Gweru and Mutare).
- Geothermal Energy
In 1985, 50 MW of geothermal potential was identified, but little has been done since then for any further resource assessment.