Michael Tome Business Reporter
THE Government says it has revived plans to integrate wind energy into the country’s energy mix as it continues to devise mechanisms to contain the enduring power deficit and prepare for anticipated growth in demand for power.
This is after Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) in 2018 halted the wind energy feasibility study after companies tendered expensive bids, which exceeded the estimated budget.
However, the Government says it has received funding from the African Development Bank (AFDB) to explore the potential of wind energy resources.
Zimbabwe continues to face energy supply challenges albeit the huge untapped potential in the renewable energy sector given the current 2 gigawatts of unmet demand.
Also referred to as wind power, wind energy entails the use of wind turbines to generate electricity that is fed into main grids or to isolated, and off-grid locations with a much smaller impact on the environment compared to fossil fuels.
This is a popular, sustainable, renewable energy source across the world that provides steadier energy and the local energy regulator once hinted at wind resource measurement in the middle veld from south to north-eastern parts of the country.
The country’s major power plants have an installed capacity of 2260 megawatts but lately generation capacity is subdued at around 1300 MW with demand hovering at around 1750 MW.
According to Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) acting managing director Engineer Howard Choga the country’s projected demand for energy is likely to reach 2350 megawatts by 2025, especially with high demand from the mining sector.
This calls for consented efforts and clear strategies from the energy sector players in order to address the persistent power outages and looming demand for energy.
Secretary for Energy and Power Development, Dr Gloria Magombo told delegates at the recently held Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) stakeholder engagement meeting that her ministry wants to see the private sector exploring more energy resources other than solar.
“We have had a number of studies that have been done by the private sector in various areas where there are average wind speeds of over eight metres per second and hub heights of over 80 metres which really is a good opportunity for people to bring in wind into the energy mix of this country.
“We have received funding from the African Development Bank (AFDB) for some sites which we will then be able to auction to the private sector,” said Dr Magombo.
She, however, bemoaned the spate of vandalism currently perpetrated on energy infrastructure saying it hampers the goal of energy provision to all corners of the country.
Further calling for the ban on the export of scrap copper since the country was not producing copper.
“Of serious concern to the government is the issue of vandalism which continues to affect us, on a daily basis we are losing 3-4 transformers we have had a cumulative loss of over 4100 transformers nationwide which is a major drawback because once you put a transformer is expected to last 20-30 years but we are losing this infrastructure at times after a week,” she added.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union representative treasure general Bright Bvokombwe at the meeting implored the government to come up with a structure that will allow farmers to participate in wind energy generation.
“As ZERA, we are challenging you to come up with a framework that can allow farmers to invest in the windmill projects to supplement the power deficit we are seeing in the country,” he said.
Wind Energy has largely remained untapped and under-utilised in Zimbabwe, in 2017, the ZERA invited bids from interested contractors to carry out a feasibility study on potential sites where wind power stations could be established but the project was put on hold in 2018.