Zambian energy is largely hydroelectric and the country has a huge potential, as it has been estimated that Zambia possesses forty percent of the water resources in the Southern African Development Community.
Hydro power is the most important energy source in the country. Other sources are wood, petroleum, coal, and biomass.
According to the statistics, the Case of Zambia presented at the workshop on environment statistics by Masiliso Sooka in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the energy used by source is follows:
There currently are three main electricity companies in Zambia: The state-owned ZESCO, the Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) and the Lusemfwa Electricity Company. As at now Zambia is almost self-sufficient in all its energy sources with the exception of petroleum.
However, electricity is not readily available in most Zambian households, especially in the rural areas. Fuel wood meets almost all the energy requirements of rural households. This has resulted in deforestation of large tracts of land.
The trend is however not confined to rural areas alone. Land around urban areas like Lusaka and the Copperbelt towns are deforested as a result of charcoal burning. Charcoal is also the most common energy used in urban areas.
Demand for electricity in the country is expected to exceed 2,500 MW by the year 2020.
Zambia has about 6,000 MW unexploited hydropower potential, while only about 2,259 MW , or 37% has been developed.
Of the total power output, Kariba Dam (Lake Kariba), on the Zambezi River and Kafue gorge on the Kafue River are the country’s main power stations.
Smaller Hydropower Stations include the Chishimba, , Lunzua, Mulungushi and Shiwang’andu hydropower stations.
Currently there is only one small geothermal generation plant in Zambia, the Kapisya hot springs. This was installed in the mid-1980s by the initiative of the Italian Government.
Lake Kariba was formed by the Kariba Dam, which was built during 1955-1959 on the Zambezi River at the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. A hydroelectric facility was also built on the dam. The dam, a concrete-arch structure, is 128m high and has a length about 610 meters along its crest. When the lake was formed, in 1960 and 1961, about 50,000 persons and many wild animals were evacuated.
Another hydro power station is due to be developed on Kafue River (Kafue gorge lower). This hydroelectric plant is intended to offset the Zambian energy deficit which currently stands at 250 Megawatts.
Currently Zambia only has two coal mines, the major one being the former government owned Maamba Collieries Limited, and the other being Collum Coal Mine. Both are in Southern Province.
A 300 megawatts thermal power plant had long been planned to be developed at Maamba collieries. Hence, the Power Plant was synchronized with the national grid on 24 July 2016. The plant uses coal which is mined at Maamba.
The government has embarked on a rural electrification programme to provide electricity to the Zambian rural areas. This is in view of the fact that only 5 percent of the rural households are electrified. This development has led to the creation of the Rural Electrification Authority to help meet the rural Zambian energy requirements.
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