By Lungelo Ndhlovu
The Zimbabwean government is intensifying harnessing of wind power to generate electricity as part of its efforts to promote the use of environmentally friendly energy technologies.
According to Tobias Mudzingwa, engineer for renewable energies with the Zimbabwe Energy Regulation Authority (ZERA), preliminary wind mapping studies to identify areas suitable for wind energy power generation have since been undertaken throughout the country.
Gweru, Zvishavane, Chivhu, Bulawayo, Masvingo and the Eastern Highlands, are some of the areas identified with potential for wind energy power generation.
“Wind energy is a very sustainable energy source which can be harnessed to produce electricity that is fed into the national grid or for off-grid applications,” said Mudzingwa.
This comes at a time when authorities are battling to address the growing power deficit in the country which poses as a major threat to economic recovery.
Primarily, the renewable sector in Zimbabwe consists of solar, hydro, wind and biomass which includes biogas (sugarcane based), sawmill waste, biogas and forestry waste.
“At the moment we do not have utility scale wind projects yet but we do hope to have them once we are done with wind energy resource assessment which we shall be initiating this year. This exercise will produce bankable data which can be made available to potential investors,” said Mudzingwa.
Given the dire state of Zimbabwe’s energy sector, investing in renewable energy projects is key to improving access in a country where 83 percent of rural people are not connected to electricity, 37 years after independence.
Government announced a series of tax exemptions, license fee cuts and a raft of financing measures to drive the renewable energy development.
The Ministry of Energy and Power Development’s Draft National Renewable Energy Policy report, indicates that wind energy has the potential to generate up to 40 000MW, while biogas could produce about 150MW
“The potential is there. We have … abundant sunshine with over 3000 hours per year … We (also) have … green fuel, ethanol. So there is huge potential to exploit in Zimbabwe,” said Munyaradzi Kaundikiza, an Environment Africa Project Office