Renewable Energy Potential

Renewable energy potential

Tanzania has high and largely untapped potential for renewable energy sources. The only widely used resource is large hydropower. Additionally, small hydropower has strong potential and is particularly feasible in rural areas. Thus far biomass resources have predominantly been exploited in traditional, but unsustainable ways. However, biomass also has promising potential due to the large amounts of organic waste produced in the agricultural sector. Solar energy is abundant and both off-grid and grid-connected solutions have been developed. Wind resources are currently under assessment and development of the first plants is scheduled to begin by 2017. Initial measurements show promising wind speeds in some regions of the country.



Traditionally, hydropower has been the main source of electricity in Tanzania. However, intermittent river flows have reduced its reliability. Another key challenge facing hydropower development is the regional disparity between the locations of hydro plants and major demand centres. The transmission system also needs to be strengthened in order to capitalise on the potential of hydropower.

Tanzania intends to further develop its large hydro capacity. Estimates of potential additional capacity are as high as 4,000 MW. The PSMP includes 16 projects with combined capacity of 3,000 MW that are due to be finalised by 2031. With the proposed additions, large hydropower is expected to exceed 30% of generating capacity by 2025.

The assessed potential of small hydropower resources (up to 10 MW) is 480 MW. Grid-connected small-hydro projects currently contribute 26 MW to the energy mix. Most small-hydro plants are owned by private investors and are not connected to the national electricity grid. TANESCO owns five small-hydro plants with capacities ranging from 300 kW-8,000 kW.

From the 11 projects for which SPPAs have been recently signed, six are mini-hydro projects. These have a total capacity of 35 MW. In addition, TANESCO has signed letters of intent for six small-hydro projects with a combined capacity of 30 MW. Several isolated mini-grid projects are under development and the MEM is conducting feasibility studies for small-hydro facilities in eight regions.



Some areas of Tanzania are identified to have promising wind resources. Among the areas where assessments have been conducted, Kititimo (Singida) and Makambako (Njombe) have been established as having adequate wind speeds for grid-scale electricity generation. Wind speeds in Kititimo average 9.9 m/s and those in Makambako 8.9 m/s at a height of 30m. The Ministry of Energy and Minerals, in collaboration with TANESCO, is conducting wind speed assessments at eight sites throughout the country. The REA is supporting wind measurements on Mafia Island. To date, four private companies have expressed an interest in investing in wind energy. These companies are considering the construction of wind farms with capacities of between 50 MW and 100 MW. In May 2015, the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), which is administered by the World Bank, published a preliminary report on the mesoscale modelling of wind resources in Tanzania. ESMAP has come up with the following map depicting areas of high wind energy potential based on existing data and estimates.


Biomass is Tanzania’s largest energy source. Currently, there are two biomass plants (20 MW) connected to the national grid. However, several agro-industrial companies have built captive biomass-based power systems to generate electricity for their operations (estimated capacity of about 58 MW). The potential for modern biomass use is high, considering that the raw material is widely available and includes sugar bagasse (1.5 million tonnes per annum [MTPA]), sisal (0.2 MTPA), coffee husk (0.1 MTPA), rice husk (0.2 MTPA), municipal solid waste (4.7 MTPA) and forest residue (1.1 MTPA).



Tanzania has promising solar energy potential, with between 2,800 and 3,500 hours of sunshine per year and global horizontal irradiation of 4-7 kWh/m2 per day. Solar irradiation is particularly high in the centre of the country.

solar map Tanzania

Source: SolarGIS


To date, approximately 6 MWp of off-grid solar PV capacity has been installed countrywide. PV installations are generally used in villages, schools, hospitals, health centres, police stations, small telecommunications enterprises and households, as well as for lighting, street lighting and basic electricity needs. Working through the REA and various donors, the government has supported a number of solar PV expansion programmes. A 55 MW grid-connected PV plant  is scheduled for commissioning in Dodoma between mid-2016 and late-2016 (two phases). The estimated potential capacity for grid-connected solar PV is 800 MW.

The PSMP 2007-2031 envisages the construction of 120 MWp of PV capacity by 2018, and several private companies have expressed an interest in developing 50-100 MWp solar plants. A few PPAs have been signed thus far.



Tanzania has significant geothermal potential that has not yet been fully assessed. Estimates based on analogue methods indicate potential in excess of 650 MW, with the most promising sites located in the East African Rift Valley. The 50 identified geothermal sites are grouped into three main prospect zones. Public-sector support will be targeted at overcoming the higher-risk phases of exploration and development.


Key market segments

Large and medium-sized power plants
Rural electrification/small, mini and micro hydro plants (community-based)

Grid-connected power plants
Rural electrification/part of hybrid mini-grid systems

Biogas / Biomass
Grid-connected/captive power plants for industry and institutions (flowers, vegetables, fruit, tea, schools)
Rural electrification/biogas plants for communities
Grid-connected/waste-to-energy conversion
Dome biogas for cooking

Rural electrification/mini-grids and stand-alone systems for households, commercial users and tourism
Back-up or captive power systems for small businesses, tourism and industry
Grid-connected power plants

Grid-connected power plants