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Zimbabwe

Renewable Energy Potential

Physical Potential

Zimbabwe has strong potential for electricity generation from hydro, solar and biomass resources. So far, only a fraction of the country’s hydro energy potential has been exploited. Solar and biomass resources also remain largely untapped. Wind and geothermal energy are believed to have less potential in Zimbabwe than in other countries in the region and projects are thus less feasible.

Solar Potential

The average solar irradiation is 5.7 kWh/m2/day with the north and west regions of the country having the highest irradiation potential. Solar PV has a technical potential of over 300 MW. While installed solar power capacity is mainly situated in rural areas and particularly within social institutions, the private, individual home market is growing. A number of small and medium-sized companies that focus on the installation of PV and solar water heaters are emerging. The government will promote the use of solar water geysers that are intended to replace conventional ones. Solar-powered “base stations” for charging electrical appliances have also been installed, mainly through the national telecommunications company.

Wind Potential

Average wind speeds are estimated at 3.5 m/s. The Ministry sees potential in the exploitation of these slow wind speeds for water pumping. The NGO ZERO, a regional environmental initiative, has conducted feasibility studies and financed the production of 1 and 4 kW wind turbines for off-grid purposes, as well as providing power to municipal buildings such as clinics. Areas around Bulawayo and the Eastern Highlands could have potential for larger power generation, since the most prevalent wind speeds range from 4 to 6 m/s.

Hydro Potential

The gross theoretical hydropower potential is 18,500 GWh/year. The technically feasible potential is 17,500 GWh/year, of which 19% has been exploited. Rusitu Hydro, a mini hydro plant (750kW), is one plant constructed and operated by private entrepreneurs. Around eight other small-hydro plants, ranging from 3 kW to over 700 kW, have been installed in the country. Four plants with a total capacity of 21 MW have been commissioned between 2010 and 2014, operating as Independent Power Producers (IPPs). The total small-hydro potential is estimated at 120 MW with Gairezi in Nyange district being particularly promising.

Bioenergy Potential

Co-generation potential (bagasse) currently provides 633 GWh of electricity. The primary source of power generation is obtained from the waste materials of sugarcane production. Two sugarcane-crushing mills process more than 1.3 million tonnes of bagasse to generate electricity used by the sugar factories. The timber industry also has strong biomass potential, generating over 70,000 tonnes of waste for biomass annually. Long-term projections anticipate this figure to double. At the larger mills approximately 10% of the wood waste is consumed in process steam boilers for lumber drying kilns. The vast majority of the industry’s waste is burned outdoors or discarded. An estimated 4 MW of additional energy could be created through enhancing equipment at these facilities.

More than 200 biogas plants have been installed around Zimbabwe, primarily by the Ministry of Energy. The vast livestock population offers high potential for biogas generation. The country’s first utility-scale biogas power plant (800 kW) is currently at the planning stage.

Geothermal Potential

50 MW of geothermal potential were identified in 1985, but little has been done since to further catalogue the resource. It is reasonable to assume from the country’s geographic location near to the geologically-active Rift Valley indicates that geothermal power may be a viable generation option.

Key figures

Available statistics:
Capital
Harare
Official language
English
Population (2016 est.)
14,546,961
Population growth (2016 est.), %
2.2
Median age (2016 est.), years
20.6
Urbanization rate (2010 - 2016), % p.a.
2.3
Urban population (2015), % of total
32.4
Rural population (2015), % of total
67.6
Population density (2015), per km2
33
HDI (2014), rank of 188
155
National Currency
US Dollar
Exchange rate (February 2017), USD
1.0
GDP (2015), USD million current
14,419
GDP growth (2015), %
0.5
GDP annual growth rate forecast (2020), %
4.88
GNI per capita (2015), current int’l USD
1,710
Avg. Inflation (2009 – 2017), %
0.87
Inflation Rate Forecast (2020), %
0.7
Foreign Direct Investment, net inflows (2015), BOP current USD billions
0.39
Net official development assistance (2014), current USD millions
757.85
Budget deficit (2016), % of GDP
-3.5
Ease of Doing Business (2016), rank of 190
161
TI Corruption Index (2016), rank of 168
150
Installed Generation Capacity (2016), MW
2,040
Installed Fossil Fuel Capacity (2016), % of total installed capacity
56
Hydro Capacity (2016), % of total installed capacity
38
Other RE Capacity (2016), % of total installed capacity
6
Renewable electricity output as % of total electricity output excl. hydro (2013)
0.5
Avg. distribution and transmission losses as % of output (2013)
28
Net electricity imports (2014), kWh
1,100,000,000
Electrification rate, total (2014) %
52
Electrification rate, urban (2014) %
78
Electrification rate, rural (2014) %
40
Peak demand (2015), MW
2,200
Per capita electricity consumption (2013), kWh
532
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