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Discussing climate change and renewable energy in Zambia

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October 7, 2020

RES4Africa Foundation, in partnership with the Embassy of Italy in Zambia, promoted and organized a webinar on climate change and renewable energy in Zambia that was attended by more than 300 participants. Among others, the Italian Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hon. Emanuela Del Re and the Zambian Ministers for Energy, Hon. Matthew Nkhuwa and for National Development and Planning, Hon. Alexander Chiteme participated to the discussion outlining the opportunities for collaboration in the field of renewable energies. During the online event, our Senior Researcher Mirko Armiento and Andrea Prudenzi from CESI discussed the results of a research on the integration of Variable Renewable Energy Sources (VRES) in the National Electric System of Zambia.

The study was carried out by RES4Africa Foundation and Enel Foundation, in collaboration with CESI and with the support of local stakeholders such as the Ministry of Energy, ZESCO and the Energy Regulation Board (ERB). The study assessed the optimal technical-economic amount of VRES - namely solar PV and wind - that can be integrated in Zambia in the mid- and long-term (2025 and 2030) without affecting the reliability, integrity and efficiency of the power system. Results showed that wind and PV technologies can play a key role to reduce the dependence on hydro of the Zambian electricity sector, which currently accounts for about 85% of total national installed capacity. The energy crisis of 2015/2016 and the effects of climate change with more frequent low rainfall periods and droughts pushed the Government of Zambia to undertake a diversification process of the energy mix in order to improve system resilience.

The research explained how the increased penetration of VRES in the country may also bring economic benefits from power trading if network interconnections with neighboring countries are properly exploited and power trading on competitive markets is allowed. The flexibility of hydro power plants can efficiently balance the variability of wind and PV and plays a key role in their integration in the electric system. The study estimated that the optimal installed VRES capacity in 2030 can reach 3.8 GW with 1,826 MW of PV and 1,900 of wind (1,576 MW of PV and 1,600 MW of wind in 2025), covering up to 36% of the load.

Our Deputy Director Giuseppe Montesano who closed the event highlighted the importance of these results: “The study found a higher than expected contribution of renewables and interconnections to providing reliable, affordable and environmentally sustainable energy supply”.

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