Zimbabwe to construct first utility geothermal power plant

Zimbabwe announced that it will construct its first utility-scale geothermal energy Independent Power Producer and support the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the country, of which the energy sector is the highest contributor.

The initiative emanates from the Green Resilient Recovery Rapid Readiness and Geothermal Energy Development Project in Zimbabwe, which was identified as a key area of intervention after the investment plan and the support for Zimbabwe were approved under the Green Climate Fund.

Zimbabwe’s total energy generation in 2021 comprised 29 percent from non-renewable sources and 71 percent from renewable sources, with hydropower (at 69 percent of total energy generation) comprising the largest share, according to the Climate Change Management Department under the Ministry of Environment, Climate, and Wildlife.

The department said, however, that increased drought frequency, rainfall unpredictability, and reduced water levels exacerbated by climate change have severely impacted hydropower levels, causing intensive load shedding, and increased reliance on fossil fuels, fuelwood, and electricity imports to make up for the deficit.

They added that the objective of the Geothermal Energy Development Project is to increase access to clean and reliable energy. there is currently no operational geothermal IPP project in the country and the plant will complement and integrate with other existing energy systems.

They added that there are currently four existing Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority power stations, the Kariba South Hydroelectric Power Station and the coal-fired Harare, Bulawayo and Munyati thermal power stations.

Binary cycle geothermal technology was considered best and appropriate based on the proposed site conditions, which produces electricity as well as the potential exploitation of waste heat as an additional revenue stream, said the department.

Electricity generated will be distributed through a transmission line under the responsibility of Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company, they added.

Zimbabwe has various renewable energy resources that have to date not been fully exploited. These include solar, hydro, wind, and geothermal. There are no installed geothermal electrical energy plants despite 32 potential geothermal energy sites being identified by the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, the officials pointed out.

The project aims to reduce Zimbabwe’s reliance on hydropower energy sources by diversifying its energy mix and ultimately lowering the energy sector-based emissions compared to the business-as-usual scenario, according to the department.

Geothermal power generation is one of the best options to provide additional capacity to the grid to meet the growing power demand, they added.

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