Hydro–connected floating PV renewable energy system and onshore wind potential in Zambia

Nyoni, Kumbuso Joshua and Maronga, Anesu and Tuohy, Paul Gerard and Shane, Agabu (2021) Hydro–connected floating PV renewable energy system and onshore wind potential in Zambia. Energies, 14 (17). 5330. ISSN 1996-1073 (https://doi.org/10.3390/en14175330)

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The adoption of a diversification strategy of the energy mix to include low-water consumption technologies, such as floating photovoltaics (FPV) and onshore wind turbines, would improve the resilience of the Zambian hydro-dependent power system, thereby addressing the consequences of climate change and variability. Four major droughts that were experienced in the past fifteen years in the country exacerbated the problems in load management strategies in the recent past. Against this background, a site appraisal methodology was devised for the potential of linking future and existing hydropower sites with wind and FPV. This appraisal was then applied in Zambia to all the thirteen existing hydropower sites, of which three were screened off, and the remaining ten were scored and ranked according to attribute suitability. A design-scoping methodology was then created that aimed to assess the technical parameters of the national electricity grid, hourly generation profiles of existing scenarios, and the potential of variable renewable energy generation. The results at the case study site revealed that the wind and FPV integration reduced the network's real power losses by 5% and improved the magnitude profile of the voltage at nearby network buses. The onshore wind, along with FPV, also added 341 GWh/year to the national energy generation capacity to meet the 4.93 TWh annual energy demand, in the presence of 4.59 TWh of hydro with a virtual battery storage potential of approximately 7.4% of annual hydropower generation. This was achieved at a competitive levelized cost of electricity of GBP 0.055/kWh. Moreover, floating PV is not being presented as a competitor to ground-mounted systems, but rather as a complementary technology in specific applications (i.e., retrofitting on hydro reservoirs). This study should be extended to all viable water bodies, and grid technical studies should be conducted to provide guidelines for large-scale variable renewable energy source (VRES) integration, ultimately contributing to shaping a resilient and sustainable energy transition.