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SOLAR ENERGY IN ZAMBIA -
Zambia has between 2,600 and 3,000
hours of sunshine per year with the peak occurring during October-November when
temperatures of between 30-35 BC are recorded.
The average annual solar insolation is about 5.6 kWh/m2 per
day. However, new and renewable
energy sources such as wind and solar energy largely remain untapped.
Zambia is largely self sufficient
in her energy needs, except for petroleum which is the only wholly imported
energy resource. Woodfuel in the
form of firewood and charcoal, is the principal source of energy in the country
accounting for 68% on average of the total energy supply.
Millions of tonnes of wood are used per year causing severe deforestation
in some areas of the country. Efforts
to discourage people from using Woodfuel have not been successful mainly due to
lack of resources and workable alternatives.
Electricity is the second most important indigenous energy resource after
Woodfuel. However, accessibility of
the majority of the population to electricity still remains low. To provide electricity to all scattered human settlements in
Zambia by means of grid extension is not practical in the foreseeable future.
However, solar PV systems can provide cost effective and reliable power
for lighting, radio, TV and cottage industries.
Apart from the lack of information
about the solar energy technologies among potential users, the other reason for
the failure of PV and renewable energy supply has been the pricing factors.
Distortions due to taxes and fees affected fuel choices, technology
choices and total energy demand. Price
distortions have led to high initial costs and a small market for RETs including
PV systems. Renewable energy
projects received very little government commitment in the past.
It is believed that one of the reasons why a number of agricultural
facilities and church missions have solar systems in Zambia is because donor
agencies, church organizations and agro-business ventures were exempted from
paying sales tax and import duties.
Rural electrification in Zambia has
been undermined financially by various factors such as long transmission
distances, high costs of transmission lines and associated switch gear and low
power demand. The National Energy
policy recognizes the potential of New and Renewable Sources of Energy (NRSE) in
meeting the energy needs of rural communities. There are many advantages of using solar energy, major
benefits accruing from the popular uses include; improvement of basic living
standards of people in rural areas through the provision of clean water by water
pumping, extension of day (through provision of adequate light at night), and
the provision of quality health care due to availability of vaccine
Other major benefits include the
extension of business hours thereby increasing income generation (by providing
adequate lighting at night), facilitating communications through UHF and VHF
radios for police and military purposes, and energy savings in telecommunication
repeater stations as use of diesel for power generation was eliminated.
Promotion of solar energy technology has faced a number of barriers relating to the National Energy Policy. If the supply of solar energy is to be enhanced and country-wide utilization realized then the various barriers to its use must be resolved.
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