Energy and Power Development Minister Zhemu Soda says the Government will continue exploring the viability of wind energy as the country targets 100 megawatts by 2025.
“The plan remains alive,” Minister Soda told The Herald Finance & Business in an interview last week. “We have some sites in Guruve and Mhondoro where feasibility studies will be conducted . . . to assess the bankability of the wind projects.”
Zimbabwe is targeting to produce 2 000 megawatts from renewable energy sources by 2030, a position the country also presented to the COP26 in Glasgow, United Kingdom, which is in line with its pledge to reduce greenhouse emissions by 2030.
More than 35 African countries, Zimbabwe included and well over 1 000 major companies have committed to emissions cuts in line with the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, which seeks to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius and strive for a ceiling of 1,5 degrees by 2030.
Investments in renewables would be driven by off grid standalone home systems, mini and huge solar plants.
In 2017, the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority invited bids from interested contractors to carry out a feasibility study on potential sites where wind power stations could be established.
However, the project was put on hold in 2018 as prices quoted by bidders far exceeded the budget. The exercise was meant 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.
The intention was to measure wind speed and direction at these sites and remotely collect data for 24 months at a hub height of 100 metres.
The data and information generated was expected to be used in designing large-scale wind power projects, off-grid or mini-grid electric plants, use for water pumping and climate research.
The areas where ZERA intends to conduct wind resource measurement include the middle veld from the south to the north-eastern part of the country.
The zones were identified after taking into consideration access to roads, terrain, proximity to load centres and land use (protected areas and other productive purposes).
The wind assessment programme was driven 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 effects of climate change, experts say the potential of wind power to reduce carbon emissions is significant.
Renewable energy is steadily growing in Africa and some countries have already made significant progress in generating electricity as they move towards green energy projects.
Early this year, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Fund (UN SDG Fund) approved a US$45 million programme to transform Zimbabwe’s renewable energy drive.
The programme is focused on speeding investments in renewable energy for the acceleration of the attainment of the SDGs.
The UN SDG Fund is contributing $10 million to the programme while the Government through the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe and local partners including Old Mutual Investment Group, Zimnat Asset Management and CABS are supporting the programme with $35 million.