United Nations Development Program Advances Zimbabwe Minigrid Initiative

March 22, 2024
Five potential minigrid sites have been identified as part of the United Nations Development Program’s $1.5 million Energy Offer Project.

Zimbabwe has long embraced minigrids as a way to combat chronic power outages and limited access to the country’s electric grid.

The government's efforts to provide reliable electricity have taken another step forward with the announcement that a series of feasibility studies have been completed and five new potential minigrid sites have been identified. 

The announcement was made at the International Renewable Energy Conference and Expo held in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe earlier this month, as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the government of Zimbabwe provided an update on the UNDP’s Energy Offer Project, which is funding the development of the minigrids.

First announced in 2022, the Energy Offer Project will spend $1.5 million to develop rural minigrids in Zimbabwe to improve access to electricity. Just 49% of the Zimbabwean population has access to electricity. That number drops to 31.6% for those in rural areas.

The sites were selected based on “factors such as the accessibility of the area, infrastructure present in the area, demography, economic profile and energy resources present as well as possibility of the people to have access to finance and micro credits,” Cassandra Kadenha, Energy Offer Project Coordinator for the UNDP told conference attendees.

EnGreen, an Italian consulting firm that designs and develops off-grid and grid-connected renewable energy systems, conducted the technical and economic feasibility studies for the 5 solar hybrid minigrids.

A minigrid, which is sometimes referred to as a remote microgrid, is typically a faster, cheaper and more reliable way of delivering electricity to remote communities that do not have access to a central grid.

The Energy Offer Project minigrids will power irrigation and other water pumping systems, as well as businesses, schools, and medical facilities.

The UNDP is partnering with the Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Energy and Power Development, Rural Electrification Agency (REA) and Energy Regulatory Agency on this project.

Other renewable energy projects announced

The Zimbabwean government also announced that it had completed the screening of 30 renewable energy projects from independent power producers (IPPs), and ten had been selected.

These projects are expected to generate 271 MW of power, according to The Standard, an independent weekly publication that helped organize the International Renewable Energy Conference.

About the Author

Kathy Hitchens | Special Projects Editor

I work as a writer and special projects editor for Microgrid Knowledge. I have over 30 years of writing experience, working with a variety of companies in the renewable energy, electric vehicle and utility sector, as well as those in the entertainment, education, and financial industries. I have a BFA in Media Arts from the University of Arizona and a MBA from the University of Denver.

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