Zim eyes wind energy

Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE intends to carry out a wind resource measurement on three sites that have the highest energy potential as the country seeks alternative sources of electricity.

Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority chief executive Engineer Gloria Magombo told The Sunday Mail Business last week that the regulatory body was already assessing tenders from companies that submitted bids to carry out the assessment. The purpose of this project is to create an accurate knowledge base of the wind resource available in Zimbabwe through measurement and analysis to help the country plan for renewable energy projects.

Zimbabwe is looking at expanding electricity generation from non-fossil fuels as part of efforts to partly meet its carbon emissions reduction targets by 2030.  The country is a signatory to the Paris climate change accord signed in 2015 which largely seeks to hold the increase of the global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius.

Zimbabwe submitted a conditional 33 percent energy sector per capita greenhouse gas emission reduction target.

The submission was conditional on the means of implementation namely technology development and transfer, relevant training and financial support.

Official estimates say the country needs about $90 billion to meet its climate goals. Of  this, $55 billion is targeted at clean energy.

Studies have shown that Zimbabwe is emitting an estimated 26 000 giga grammes of carbon dioxide, equivalent to 0,05 of the global emissions. Eng Magombo said the identified areas with high potential for wind energy include the middle veld from the south to the north-eastern parts of the country.

The wind assessment programme was stimulated by a study conducted by the International Renewable Energy Agency in 2015 through the Africa Clean Energy Corridor Programme, which identified solar photovoltaics, concentrating solar power and wind energy zones covering countries in the power pools of Eastern and Southern Africa.

As the world battles the destructive effects of climate change, experts say the potential of wind power in terms of reducing carbon emissions is significant. Last year, wind power helped the planet avoid more than 637 million tonnes of carbon emissions, according to the Global Wind Energy Council. Over the past 10 years, there has been a gradual decrease of the cost of wind power generation, making it more competitive compared to fossil fuels, according to reports.

It said some countries, positioned in optimal locations, have sought to grab the opportunity to move from existing conventional power generation towards increasing share of renewable energy.  A total of 1 170MW of wind turbine capacity has been built in South Africa and another 840MW is currently in the pipeline. Overall, South Africa is aiming to install 8 400MW of wind capacity by 2030. Through the Moroccan wind energy programme, managed by a public body, the government has established a target of 2 GW of installed wind power by 2020 for an investment of US$3,5 billion.

Egypt has set a national target to 4,3 GW of renewable energy by 2022. Kenya is implementing its Lake Turkana project, which upon completion will produce 324 MW.

Local climate and energy experts commended the move by Zera, saying ascertaining the potential wind energy will help attract investments into the projects.  Zimbabwe is already developing a framework that will help it issue debt instruments that finances projects considered climate-smart, including wind and solar.

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