This project promotes renewable energy that’s appropriate for Zambia. “Renewable Energy for Sustainable Development” seeks to develop renewable energy resources that are local and readily available. For example, such projects involving biomass, solar, and mini-hydro. It has already completed several projects, providing jobs and improving the quality of life in society.
Due to Zambia’s large land span and sparse population, extending the national power grid to far-flung rural areas has been a challenge. Many remote rural areas get their power from diesel generators. These are expensive, and have high environmental impact. Emissions from diesel generators include greenhouse gases that are contributing to climate change.
This activity promotes the use of abundant, readily available renewable energy resources in Zambia to help electrify rural areas. The establishment of mini-grids is a particularly effective solution for Zambia, as they do not require the construction of long stretches of electrical lines across uninhabited areas.
So far, the project has activated the Shiwang’andu Small Hydropower Plant; constructed a solar mini-grid in Mpanta, which supplies electricity for households and local institutions such as schools, rural health centers, shops, fishing businesses, and the church; and installed a biomass gasifier in Ndola. The biomass in the latter case is sourced from sustainable forestry activities.
Helping the planet
The project aims to reduce dependency on fossil fuels, and hence the emission of greenhouse gases. The solar mini-grid, for example, taps the free radiation of the sun. This provides a power source that is clean and abundant and does not contribute to climate change.
Jobs were created in the construction of the mini-hydropower plant, providing economic opportunities to locals. Electrifying rural communities increases the quality of life for people there. It also improves health services, as rural health centers are electrified, and education and literacy levels increase, as schools are electrified.
Based on the activity’s success so far, a further biomass gasifier is planned, as well as small-scale hydropower at four additional sites. As a part of the project, a revolving fund was established to promote financing of renewable energy projects. Initially, the fund provided concessional finance to mini-grids. Once profits from the mini-grid investors return to the fund, it will act as seed money to support future renewable energy-based rural electrification projects. This assures not only growth of the model, but also paves the path for further rural electrification.
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