The energy crisis in Zimbabwe has literally become a norm. Last Saturday I was chatting with my barber about this. Come to think of it I do not recall the last time he worked on my hair with electricity available. I did remark that it was better for him at least because a barber does not need that much power. How about other businesses that normally require lots of power? All of this is frustrating more so when you think of the renewable energy resources we have in Zimbabwe. Recently the Energy and Power Development Minister, Zhemu Soda spoke on this.

2023 International Renewable Energy Conference And Expo

He was speaking at the recent edition of the International Renewable Energy Conference and Expo. This was the 4th edition and the event was held in Victoria Falls. It was a 4-day conference that was put together through a partnership between The Standard (which belongs to Alpha Media Holdings) and the Ministry of Energy and Power Development. The event was officially opened by President E.D. Mnangagwa.

Here were some of the Energy and Power Development Minister’s remarks:

On Solar Energy Potential

I have always spoken about how we have barely scratched the surface when it comes to solar energy in Zimbabwe. We have the capacity to generate at least 10000 GW Hours of solar energy in a year. Here is what he said:

Solar potential is 16 to 20 mega joules per square metre per day, which is vastly unexploited and is present in several regions of the country. By end of 2022, Zimbabwe had grid-connected installed solar capacity of only 40 MW. Mainly 24 MW from the independent power producers (IPPs) and the balance for own consumption is now being connected through the net metering facilities. That is short of the potential of over 100 GW as per the renewable energy policy instruments. Through partnerships with the World Bank, 5 out of 17 sites have 3 feasibility studies done with a total capacity of 370 MW in preparation for competitive procurement.

On Hydropower Potential

The Minister highlighted small-scale hydropower projects that can be set up in the Eastern Highlands. He also mentioned that such projects can be implemented at most rivers and dams in Zimbabwe. He said:

These are small projects we can develop using our resources if we can work together. On a larger scale, we have over 5000 MW of large hydro potential along the Zambezi River basin which doubles between Victoria Falls and the Indian Ocean, including sites in Mozambique.

On Biomass, Geothermal, And Wind Potential

These are 3 areas many people may not know have huge potential in Zimbabwe. He indicated that Zimbabwe has the potential to generate over 1000 MW from biomass. This is biomass from municipal waste, agro waste, forest residues, and more. For example, over 70 000 tonnes of forest residues are produced in Zimbabwe. That biomass has the potential to produce roughly 150 MW of electricity. He also highlighted that Zimbabwe can generate over 50 MW from geothermal energy. On wind energy potential, here is what he said:

We are looking for partners to assess this potential. On winds, desktop studies by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) through the Africa Clean Energy Corridor revealed that the country has significant wind resources at isolated sites. Through a partnership with the African Development Bank, we have identified potential sites for detailed studies.

When you put everything together it is abundantly clear Zimbabwe should not be experiencing power woes. We have great deposits of non-renewable energy sources e.g. coal and coal bed methane. There is even potential in Zimbabwe for power generation from oil and gas. Then on top of all that we have renewable energy sources. As we discussed in this article, these are solar, hydro, wind, biomass, and geothermal. Think of it this way: if maximum efforts and resources are channelled towards solar energy, we can have more than enough in Zimbabwe. Yet we have several more energy sources; that is how endowed Zimbabwe is. My wish and I am sure as is yours too is to see power struggles being a thing of the past in Zimbabwe.