2 January 2019

Tanzania: Renewable Energy - a Friendly Source of Power

ENERGY is a very vital resource to the development of modern life. From household appliances, electronic devices, factories and industries machines, transportation and personal gadgets all are driven by energy. It holds extreme control over the operating capacity of our modern creation.

The most grilling phenomenon is the environmental cost associated with energy harnessing of which it's polluted by energy generation and consumption, triggering the all-out demand for sustainable methods to harness energy and moving forward to tap renewable energy.

This sparks an immense strategy to put to use all renewable energy potentials present in Tanzania. Tanzania National Energy Policy (2015), indicate renewable energy comes from the natural forms of energy derived from nature and refill over human being time scales, such as wind, sunlight, rain, waves, tides and geothermal.

However, Noah Mahimbo, a renewable energy specialist adduced that "renewable is energy from natural processes that are continuously replenished(it's resources are inexhaustible) and the sun is the source of all renewable energies except geothermal energy."

Tanzania National Energy Policy (2015) has taken into consideration the enhancement, development and utilisation of renewable energy sources and technologies to foster the realization of a sustainable industrialised Tanzania.

Based on Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century 2017 report (REN21), renewable energy contribute to 19.3 percent of the global energy consumption and 24 percent to the generation of electricity in 2015/2016 respectively. Modern biomass, geothermal and solar heat constituted 4.2 percent and hydro-electricity 3.9 percent.

Moreover,the report added that, at the national level at least 30 nations across the globe already have renewable energy which contributes to more than 20 percent of energy supply, this being in counties such as Iceland and Norway generating all their electricity using renewable forms of energy.

Ebeneza Molell, a geologist says: "Renewable energy in Tanzania is used mainly for power generation. Currently, about 578.2 MW (37.1 per cent) of power generated in Tanzania comes from hydro which is renewable energy. Over the years the power sector of Tanzania was dominated by hydropower generation."

Tanzania Ministry of Energy and Minerals, has particularly stressed enough on this backed up with available data gathered by World Energy Council, exposing the promising 900MW Stieglers Gorge project potentials ongoing on River Rufiji, interconnected grid system of 770MW capacity and the vitality of Mtera and Kidatu dams which account almost 71percent of hydropower in Tanzania.

Let alone the latter, what about other renewable energy sources potentials? Molell says further: "Biomass is Tanzania largest energy source, although much of it is produced in traditional and unstable ways. The vast majority of Tanzanians rely on biomass for energy consumption, mostly in the form of fuelwood or charcoal that is used for cooking and heating."

The National Energy policy shows that Tanzania has suitable geographic conditions for solar insolation, hence the Ministry of Energy solar energy map point central regions, Singida and Dodoma to have much insolation yearly almost 2240 Kwh/m2 annually.

Substantiating the latter, Mahimbo, a young managing director of a renewable energy company which develops, engineer, procure and construct renewable energy projects across Tanzania, affirms on the above potential adding that, "Now we are specialized more in solar Pv systems, in order to maximize existing energy resources to overcome challenges that impact renewable energy generation and improving renewable integration strategies.

However, Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme (RECP) energy data indicates, 6MW of solar grid have been installed country wide, operated in villages, hospitals, health centres and police stations. Regions like Dodoma, Sumbawanga, Tabora, Shinyanga and Singida get much solar radiation, capitalizing solar energy generation is feasible.

Also, Mahimbo added that, "Local technology on renewable energy has germinated primarily in Biogas, constructed in regions like Mbeya, Rukwa, Katavi, Arusha and Manyara." Geothermal energy is yet another untapped energy. It is thermal energy generated and stored in the Earth as highlighted by the National Energy policy of 2015.

Tanzania Geothermal Company (TDGC) has already taken shape in realizing this potential, since its inception in 2013 it has researched across the nation with geothermal energy such as the Northern parts (Ngorongoro crater, Natron, Manyara and Eyasi), Lake Zone, Central Zone and Coastal Zone.

Thus it began to explore harnessing of geothermal energy in a close look in 2016. Wind power is another potential energy existing in Tanzania that uses only airflows to run wind turbines. Windy regions such as Singida and Dodoma (spotted by climatic patterns), wind power infrastructures can produce enough energy to cater for their energy demands, as the more wind speed increases, power output increases up to the maximum for particular turbines.

Privately owned energy company like Wind East Africa, which erected the first wind farm in Singida, Tanzania (2015) ought to be supported by government efforts and policies to streamline sustainable energy development.

Molell goes on to another length on exhuming renewable energy utilization adding, "Wood energy demand account for approximately 85 percent of Tanzania overall energy supply and demand while almost 94 percent of demands are domestic. Charcoal demand has nearly doubled over the past 10 years, due to high urbanisation and high(perceived) prices of other cooking fuels like LPG or electricity."

Mahimbo exposed his grievances on existing polices being less energetic towards championing renewable energy, but also cited lack of community awareness on renewable energy potential and human resources adding value to the renewable technology and it's relative market.

The energy sector has been facing a myriad of challenges especially in the recent decade, which limit small scale industries and factories that rely on electricity. By encompassing renewable energy potentials present in our country, we can maximize the energy generated and suffice the growing need of energy for domestic and industrial consumption.

As we are working our way towards industrialising Tanzania, reliable energy supply is a critical factor.

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