A feasibility assessment of utilizing concentrated solar power (CSP) in the Zimbabwean regions of Hwange and Lupane

Heliyon. 2023 Jul 13;9(7):e18210. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2023.e18210. eCollection 2023 Jul.


The current study assesses the feasibility of Zimbabwe's Hwange and Lupane regions to host a large-scale Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) facility. The study's overarching goal is to aid in identifying, classifying, and validating suitable sites for hosting a CSP facility. In this paper, suitable sites are identified and classified by coupling the multi-criteria decision-making (MCDM) technique (specifically the analytical hierarchy process, abbreviated AHP) and geographic information system (GIS) software. Following the identification of suitable regions, the validation is carried out by technical and economic measures. As a specific criterion for decision-making, a geographic database was developed utilizing layers provided by various data sets on irradiance, orography, location, and water resources. The final maps using special tools in ArcGIS Pro revealed that the land available for concentrating solar power in Hwange and Lupane is 1792 km2 (5.6% of the study area) and 3771 km2 (11.9% of the study area), respectively. A Monte Carlo Simulation (MCS) of the theoretical power potential revealed that suitable sites in Hwange and Lupane could technically generate power ranging from 380.0 TWh/year to 477.5 TWh/year and 878.8 TWh/year to 1125.0 TWh/year, respectively. The CSP facility without a thermal energy storage (TES) facility has a $ cost per kWh of 0.1879, while the CSP-TES hybrid costs 0.1468. The LCOE for CSP without TES and CSP with TES is $ 0.0679 and $ 0.0268 higher than Zimbabwe's electricity cost, respectively. Overall, results suggest that Lupane is an excellent location for CSP facilities and supports policymakers in establishing renewable energy tariffs, resulting in economic and sustainable development.

Keywords: Analytic hierarchy process; Concentrated solar power; Renewable energy; Sustainability; Zimbabwe.