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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Harnessing Renewable Resources in Zambia: Potential for Higher Power Output

Economy Feature Economy Harnessing Renewable Resources in Zambia: Potential for Higher Power Output

By Kennedy Simutowe( BSc Eng. EIZ) & Teza Simutowe( BSc Natural Resources)
As man’s demand for power increases, new sources of energy have to be sought to sustain his well being. This energy should be easy to access, affordable, easy to manage and most importantly, self-replenishing so as to preserve the environment.

One of the energies meeting these criteria is wind energy. Winds arise from the uneven heating of the atmosphere by the sun. They have energy within them which can move trees, sands, waters, cause tides and more. Winds at moderate to high speed can rotate turbines. Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy in the wind to mechanical power. This mechanical power can be used for specific tasks including grinding maize, pumping water or transmitting it to a generator to convert it from mechanical power to electrical.

Wind energy is a viable, widely distributed, renewable resource that can be tapped into as economies around the world seek to develop cleaner, more efficient and cheaper energy alternatives. With careful planning and adequate investment, wind farms could take shape in Zambia like they have in other parts of the world.

The harnessing of readily available wind energy could provide an alternative to the highly monopolized power sector. With wind turbine technology becoming cheaper and more efficient around the world, developing economies can take advantage of this resource to provide electricity to settlements that have been left out of the national grid.

Zambia has vast resources of water power which have been harnessed to cater for the nation’s energy needs. The main power utility company, Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO) has however resorted to massive load-shedding strategies to balance the demand for power, despite the potential for a higher output. Furthermore, the power utility company has increased tariffs yet again this year in 2010, with domestic clients being the hardest hit after seeing a rise in the residential tariff of 41% from K265 to K373 per kilowatt hour. As this is regressive for a developing economy, an alternative has to be established.

With an average height above sea level of more than 1000 metres, Zambia’s geographical features and location put her in a position to harness the winds that blow across the country with good average speeds year out.

It is against this background that the development of wind farms spanning the country becomes feasible. A wind farm is a collection of wind generators within the same location, used for production of electric power. A wind generator is a machine that maybe looked at as having the reverse effect of a ventilator or fan; it uses air in motion to turn blades whose rotation is transmitted along a shaft connected to a generator, thereby producing electrical energy out of mechanical energy.

The terms wind energy or wind power describe the process by which wind is used to generate mechanical power or electricity.

Wind energy is fast becoming a reliable energy resource in Europe and other parts of the world including Denmark, the USA, Germany, Canada, and Japan.

A well developed network of wind farms could significantly reduce the unit price of electricity due to increased competition and wider access to power. The new capacity would enable power utility companies to lessen their load and thus eliminate the need for load-shedding. Municipally administered wind farms could generate revenue for local authorities while providing cheaper, easily accessible power to the less privileged communities in Zambia. For the environment, wind energy is another clean, environmentally friendly resource. It compares in cleanliness to hydro power. A move in this direction would encourage utility companies to continue providing power to the nation while seeking even more green technologies.

Wind energy undoubtedly has a great potential to be developed in Zambia and across the Southern African region as a whole. The first commercial wind farm in South Africa was commissioned in May of 2008, near Darling in the Western Cape. Similarly, Zambia can embark on wind power development.

Harnessing this renewable resource is also in line with Millennium Development Goal No. 7 of ensuring environmental sustainability while providing cheaper, cleaner energy to areas currently without power or locations too remote to include on the national network. In order for Zambia to keep abreast with the energy demands of the 21st century, various stake holders, including government ultimately have to commit themselves to this goal among others.


  1. Thanks guys for bringingin an interesting topic to ponder and debate about. having had a chance to read about this, it appears that to produce this alternative energy source commerciallywould be more costly than hydro electricity and with only 500 000 zambians as a target market, the economic viability for this is dire. However, this could work well on a micro level where villagers can produce small wind turbines to cater for their local needs.

    I would think solar energy is more on the table too..

  2. For once something that can really benefit Zambia and her people. Zesco needs to be put to rest wind poweris very possible and highly feasible. The average zambian cannot afford the absurd rates.

  3. yes. i am surprised these guys with their degrees failed to mention solar energy. there must be a reason why no one has implemented these. may be we do not have enough wind

  4. Gentlemen, please do more research before sending out such misleading information. The wind speeds in Zambia range from 2.5 -5m/s which is not sufficient to sustainably run a wind turbine. The wind speeds are however sufficient for water pumping. Detailed speeds have not been mapped for Zambia. The places w\you have talked about in Europe and USA have a lot of wind.

  5. #4 you are correct with your comment. while the articles sounds compelling I find it misleading. so many examples that have been mention are not applicable to our situation. first and foremost, zambia has not fully exploited her hydro potential, which is cheaper, renewable and predictable. the out from a wind turbine is not predictable. the scale the authors propose for development wind power development is not viable.

    besides grid connected wind farms come with a lot of issues among then interconnection issues ( requiring power electronics), protection issues, power quality, etc.

    i will need a full page to answer to their article but would advise the authors to carry out more research.

    B.Eng, M.Eng

  6. Kennedy Simutowe( BSc Eng. EIZ) & Teza Simutowe( BSc Natural Resources), are you just using elevation as the criteria/factor to conclude that we can harness wind power. I agree with number 5, u need more resaerch into this technology. Firdt of all, does Zambia have a wind Atlas ahowing daily, annual mean wind speeds etc. Do we have a model in Zambia showing areas where we can set up this wind farms? And at what hub height.


    Msc GISc

  7. Please the authors of this article must stop lying to the people about wind power. Wind power is too expensive and can not be used for base load, which is what we need in ZAMBIA. Countries like Denmark are very rich and they also lack resources such as water and coal which we have in Zambia. The problem with some of our graduates is that they can only reproduce what they read and see. This problem needs to be addressed and no offense intended.
    The farm in Cape Town that you mention. I have seen those three turbines first hand and in 2008 they did not produce any electricity due to maintenance problems with gearboxes. Wind power is still a developing power source that needs some years of research and also application of smart power grids.
    I suggest you go back to your research.

  8. While its true that our wind resource is not a high as is it is in Denmark and other countries with sea costs or deserts, Zambia indeed do have sufficient weed potential. Yes sufficient to power base loads. Those who are disputing this fact should research on the latest development in air foils and supper strength magnets that are making lighter and gearbox less wind turbines possible.

    I visited the Ndola (Nkumbula) international airport a month ago to check on the data the collect on winds. I saw that they painstakingly collect data every hour. I however doubted the accuracy of the data since it collected using pre-indipendence instruments and the readings are done at much lower altitudes compared to where turbines are generally installed. This is why the observed readings are low.

  9. Dear folks,
    Thanks for the original article and for the feedback although some of it was done unprofessionally and respectfully. That is unfortunate when dealing with an important national matter such as this one.

    I am scheduled to be in Zambia with a team of researchers on this subject and if any of you do not mind, please share your contact information. We can schedule a days’ workshop to look into this matter and see what untapped fortunes we may be dealing with.

    I am not an engineer in this field but I will be leading a group of private investors that have already looked at Zambia and think it is a good place to begin given our conducive political and intellectual environment.

    How do we connect?

  10. Has anyone done a research on the wind speeds in Zambia and on which areas in Zambia produce the most wind.

    I would like to make contact with Dr abm USA to find out if he did indeed come to Zambia and is he still interested in setting up a workshop.

    We have load shedding in Zambia for about 8 hrs a day every day and the indications are that this will continue for quite some time

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