In 2009, approximately 18.8% of the Zambian population had electricity access. In 2008, the urban access rate was 44%, with the rural access rate being just 2.2%.Only 16.7% of households in Zambia have access to electricity. The majority of the population relies heavily on charcoal and firewood for heating and cooking, whilst candles and kerosene are used for lighting.The major power stations are linked via a transmission and distribution network of 2,008 km of 330 kV lines, 548 km of 220 kV lines, 85 km of 132 kV lines, 704 km of 88 kV lines, and 3,014 km of 66 kV lines. Further distribution occurs on over 6,500 km of 33 kV and 11 kV lines.
The development plans based on the Energy Policy 1994, and the succeeding policy in May 2008, have put more emphasis on grid hydro-electricity compared to other renewable energy technologies. These plans include the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), Transitional National Development Plan (TNDP) (2002-2005), the Fifth National Development Plan (FNDP) (2006-2010), and the Sixth National Development Plan (2011-2015). The PRSP acknowledges the importance of harnessing renewable energy resources to meet the country’s energy needs. However, no investment strategy or targets for renewable energy technologies are defined in the PRSP and the main focus is on hydropower. The Sixth NDP sets out specific goals for the energy sector, including increasing capacity by 1,000 MW compared to 2010 levels, improving rural and national electrification to 15% and 40% respectively, and increasing the capacity of petroleum bulk storage facilities, to enable the storage of 30 days of strategic stock. Programme goals under the NDP include:implementing a cost-effective electricity tariff regime,establishing an open and non-discriminatory transmission access regime in the sector,introducing and appropriate cost-effective renewable energy feed-in tariff,promoting the use of biogas for cooking, lighting and electricity generation,increase biofuel substitution for mineral oil to 10%, anddevelop a Biomass Energy Strategy, to improve the sustainability and effectiveness of biomass supply.Also covered under the Sixth NDP are plans to further implement the Rural Electrification Master Plan (REMP), build capacity in the engineering sector for energy efficiency and develop an Energy Efficiency Plan, and further develop the environmental technology industry in the country, with an incentive framework.The National Energy Policy 2008 also sets out a number of policy measures for renewable energy, including the investigation of RE potentials, the strengthening of the institutional framework for RE research and development, and the provision of financial and fiscal implements for the stimulation of RE deployment.Energy & Environmental Concerns for Zambia (EECZ), a grouping of researchers, academics and policy makers have the following objectives:- To contribute to the development, promotion and wider use of energy in a sustainable manner,- To provide a forum for interaction and exchange of ideas between individuals and organisations involved in the planning, development and sustainable utilisation of energy,- To foster education, scientific research and development and the nation-wide dissemination of information in energy and the environment.The Global Village Energy Partnership (GVEP), in association with the Department of Energy, and the Ministry of Energy and Water Development, are working on a mechanism to increase access to reliable, affordable, and environmentally sustainable energy services as a means of enhancing economic and social development.
Solar energyAverage solar insolation is roughly 5.5 kWh/m²/day, with approximately 3,000 sunshine hours annually, providing good potential for solar thermal and photovoltaic exploitation. Solar power has previously been proposed as a cost-effective method for rural electrification and a compliment to existing auto-generation in the country. NAPS, a Finland-based company, is planning to set up a solar energy plant in Zambia to provide cost-effective solar kits for people in various parts of the country, in an effort to remove barriers between local solar dealers and manufacturers. Development of the country’s solar resource is still slow, although numerous past projects have proven the effectiveness of solar technology, for example European Union-funded installations in healthcare centres.Wind energyWind speeds average 2.5m/s at 10m above the ground, a speed which is mainly suitable for mechanical applications. Seven areas have been identified as viable for off-grid wind power generation, although little development has occurred. Biomass energy Woodlands and forests are estimated to cover about 50 million hectares or 66 percent of Zambia's total land area. 341,000 units of biogas digesters are currently operational in the country. With ample forest coverage, and dedicated support from the government, an integrated household-level biogas program is a possibility in the country. Bio-gasification is most common in urban compounds. Sugar cane is being grown in three provinces, and processed by three different companies with a projected capacity of 483,000 tonnes of sugar per year. At present no ethanol is being produced by the main sugar growing companies, but Lee Yeast Ltd in Kafue (Lusaka Province) produces ethanol from molasses purchased from Zambia Sugar Plc.Geothermal energy Zambia has geothermal energy potential, although it has not been examined in great detail. Geothermal power installations have been constructed, totalling some 200 kW, but only as a means for assessing potential, and never on a large scale. Over 80 hot springs exist at the 200 kW Kapishya Plant, located in Sumbu on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. More recent surveys were carried out by KENGEN, the Kenyan electricity generation utility.Hydropower Small hydro potential stands at 4 MW. An estimated 17,233 GWh/year was deemed to be economically feasible in 1991. Zambia has an estimated large-hydro power potential of 6,000MW, of which less than 2,000MW has been harnessed. Sites yet to be developed include Kafue Gorge Lower, Itezhi Tezhi, Kalungwishi, Mambilima, Batoka Gorge, Devil’s Gorge, Kabompo, and others.