Power from Wind

Objective of the Project

Outputs and Activities

Project Impact

Local Solutions and Local Needs

Project stakeholders and smart Partnerships (Approach)

Community Involvement

The “Power from Wind" Project arose out of the growing need for and focus on renewable sources of energy. The project evolved from a three-year wind monitoring exercise conducted in the country in the late 80s and early 90s. This study found that there was potential for the development of a low wind speed turbine that could generate useful amounts of electricity. Through the efforts of its research staff, ZERO initiated this project mainly to prove that wind energy is a viable source of renewable energy in Zimbabwe and can be successfully taped to provide electrical power. Monitoring sites were established in Chimanimani, Chivhu, Karoi, Mt Darwin and Rusape to find out how much wind was available and in what quantities. Pilot wind generators were installed at Dumbamwe and others in Chimanimani District at Chayamiti, Chikukwa and Shinja. The use of wind power is highly site specific, but following the initial results of the resource monitoring programme mentioned above, it appears that as much as 33% of Zimbabwe has sufficient wind which can be used for a viable wind power generation.

ZERO with the support of a Zimbabwe electronics Company (Power Vision) developed a rugged, yet sophisticated wind turbine optimised for low wind speeds.

Comparatively speaking wind energy systems are cost effective compared to photovoltaics, which would require a larger array of panels with every increase in the number of consumers. In this regard wind turbines are more suitable for larger institutional and community loads. On a suitable site, the system can provide power to clinics and schools for the use of:

  • Projectors, TV and Videos
  • Vaccine refrigerators
  • Microscopes
  • Small autoclaves
  • Room lights
  • Operating lights
  • Staff housing lights
  • Radios
  • Computers and printers
  • Lights after hours for study
  • Science equipment
  • Sewing machines

Broad Objective of the Project 

The project's broad objective was to contribute in a meaningful and practical way, to the provision of an affordable energy alternative to the rural men, women and youth of Zimbabwe.

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Expected Outputs

The "Power from Wind" Project had the following expected outputs:
Production and installation of at least six wind turbines; 
· Wind technology demonstrations at selected village sites so as to showcase the technology; 
· Production and distribution of training manuals and other awareness-raising material on the applicability and use of the wind turbine; and 
· A better-informed public on the use of wind to generate electricity.

Phase I (January 1990-March 1993)

Phase I focused on monitoring of wind speeds and installations of pilot wind generators. Wind data collection was carried out at four sites: Chivhu, Karoi, Mt Darwin and Rusape this information was computed to create a data bank. Three 50-Watt Marlec 910 wind generators providing a 12-volt direct current (dc), through a charge controller were installed in Chimanimani District at Chayamiti, Chikukwa and Shinja. Another one was installed at Dumbabwe Clinic in Makoni. This phase provided the operational experience in local conditions.

The prototypes installed at Dumbamwe, near Rusape, demonstrated that wind could provide a cost effective energy alternative to solar power. Results from the wind monitoring programme and meteorological data suggested that usable wind resources are available in 20 to 35% of Zimbabwe.

Phase II (1998-2001)

Phase II was implemented with the main goal being to design and develop a wind turbine rated at more than 500KW which could be manufactured in Zimbabwe and operate effectively in the low wind speed conditions characteristic of the country.

Phase two of the project saw the installation of wind turbines at Dumbamwe clinic, Temaruru Business Center, Chikukwa and Msampakaruma. This phase moved the turbines from the concept stage into a practical, usable technology that could impact on the lives of rural men, women, and youth. The turbines at Dumbamwe and Temaruru were synchronised to provide power to the center. During the same period the turbine systems at Temaruru Business Center were commissioned and handed over to the communities. At the center, 11 shops, two homes, electronics shop, barbershop and woodwork enterprise were established as a result of turbine power.
The major activities of the project included:

Wind monitoring; Market study; Production and installations of wind turbines; Village demonstrations; Training; Technology assessment; Production of Publications 


  • Market surveys to gauge market response, three monitoring systems were erected in Chimanimani, Chivhu and lower Gweru.
  • Setting up battery charging systems.
  • Socio-economic study to assess economic viability of wind-powered water pumping system.
  • Production of 1kW and 4kW wind turbines and installation of four turbines with a combined   capacity of 4kW at Temaruru Business center, Rusape and two 1kW turbines at Chikukwa   Permaculture Center, Chimanimani and Masampa Fishing camp on the shores of Lake   Kariba respectively.
  • Installation of wind-powered water pumping system and a larger 4kW wind generator at Temaruru Secondary School.
  • Local personnel trained on basic repair work and maintenance.
  • Production of an operator’s manual for the wind system.
  • Formation of Community Trusts to take charge of the project.
  • Creation of a successful partnership between Government, a non governmental organisation (ZERO) and a private company (Powervision Private Limited)
  • Raised awareness on wind power (renewable energy).
  • Challenged the myth that Zimbabwe does not have enough wind speed to warrant wind turbines. 

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Local Solutions for Local Needs (Scientific Innovation and relevance)

Roughly 90% of wind turbines cost is for local components. Combined with Power Vision’s three KW sine wave inverter and locally made deep cycle traction batteries, create a sophisticated system comparable to any European Installations, which avoids high import costs. Keeping expenditure local has the added advantage of stimulating local industry. Additionally a backup service is available directly and more speedily from manufactures. 


Power Source Daily Output Estimated Capital Cost Estimated running cost Estimated Life cycle unit cost
Pt 3600 wind turbine 3kWhr (at 3.2 m/s mean wind speed US$2000


US 0.10/kWhr
1 kWp PV array 5kWhr US$8000


US$ 0.20/kWhr
10 kVA Diesel genset 8kWhr US$4000 US$2.00/hr US$0.70/kWhr

The table shows relative costs for different stand alone power source for generation plant only. It also shows that at 3.2m/s wind speed, energy from wind will be cheaper. 

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Project stakeholders and smart Partnerships (Approach)

This project was a unique initiative as it demonstrated the fruits of smart partnership between government, donor communities, the private sector, the non-governmental organisation and the local community. The project was aimed at developing a wind turbine for the purposes of generating electricity for institutional and community use. It was felt that wind provided the most cost effective way of supplying power to large consumers or group of consumers compared to photovoltaics, which would require a larger array of panels with every increase in the number of consumers.

A challenge to the private sector is that it has to accept the challenge of participation in strategic implementation in line with its own economic interest. Rural men, women and youth play an important role in implementing poverty reduction rural development strategies. Hence community development is key to effective partnerships with African countries.

Wind on the other hand is a once-off investment that can cater for several consumers without pro-rata costs. Electricity thus supplied would benefit a wide range of people, that is, those who would use the health centres powered by wind and those communities that would combine to draw electricity from a single turbine or have their batteries charged.

Stakeholder/Partner Motivation & Contribution





Min of Transport and Energy

(Meteorological Department and Department of Energy)

Political and Policy Framework for Rural Electrification -Political and Policy Framework

-Wind monitoring

-Data Collection and Government Support

Rural District Councils -Local development and improved social services in the districts

-Mobilisation of communities

-Setting up of district pilot demonstration sites


-Promotion of Rural Energy services

-Analysis of new energy delivery, modes

-Mobilisation of Resources

-Grant Funding

-Social analysis and research

Wind for Africa (formerly: Power Vision) Promotion of renewable energy products and services Manufacturing, Installation distribution and marketing of Wind turbines
The World Bank Energy Services Management Assistance Programme (ESMAP) and the Netherlands Embassy in Zimbabwe Encouragement of use of renewable energy sources for rural development Finances
Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) Research on alternatives for rural electrification Models Technical assistance and standards
Rural women, men and youth (Communities) Improved access to energy services for rural development

-“Self help” management and operation

-Use of electricity and payment of the tariffs

Target group

The surrounding rural men, women and youth have seen the practical application of wind energy technology in providing electrically useful energy. Furthermore, wind-monitoring systems were installed at Wiltshire Headquarters Clinic, Makanda Clinic and Vungu Secondary School in the rural areas of Chikomba, Wedza and Vungu Rural District Councils respectively. The communities around these sites collectively ensure the security of the equipment.

Capacity Building

Skills capacity of ZERO, Powervision and Department of Energy (DOE) staff involved in the project was reinforced. Powervision's staff now feels confident of building their own model based on the prototype. ZERO and DOE staff are now capable of mounting wind monitoring systems and conducting basic repair work on the wind turbine systems. Despite facing initial teething problems, Powervision is now capable of manufacturing 1kW (or higher) turbines.

Project Impact

Prior to commencement of the project staff (except those from Powervision) had little practical knowledge of the operations of a wind turbine system. Most of the limited knowledge the personnel had been drawn from visual observations of already functioning wind turbines. However, with the hands-on experience and practical application of the technology to situations at home, the skills of project staff have been enhanced.

  • There has also been a diffusion of skills from the main technical partner, Powervision, to selected local personnel living at project sites who were in charge of maintaining the wind turbine systems and undertaking basic repair work. This personnel has also been trained to run a battery charging system.
  • The living standards of people was increased, especially the business community at the Temaruru, because their sales went up by about 200% as there was better lighting in the evening due to the presence of electricity. The following were established, ie a barber shop, hair salon and an electronics workshop. The women, men, and youth at Temaruru who used to travel long distances to Rusape for battery charging were now doing it at the center.

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Involvement of the Community

The local men, women and youth at large were an integral component of this project. The establishment of the Dumbamwe Community Power Trust (see diagrammatic presentation below) enabled the community to have a sense of ownership of the project. The target community, which comprised all the households within Dumbamwe ward, was involved in the setting up of the objectives and the purpose for the Trust. The majority of the Trustees are residents of Dumbamwe. In addition a project management committee comprising community representatives was responsible for the maintenance of the turbines and monitoring the operation of the battery recharging system and the collection of payment for the electricity utilized by the business people at the Dumbamwe center. 

The challenge in setting up the Trust was the high expectation that the men, women and youth had from the installation of the turbine, hence their ambitious plans in terms of the use of the Trust Fund. Although ZERO's plan had been to pilot test a locally generated turbine and to provide limited electricity for the business center, the men, women and youth expected more. The community had initially received the project with much enthusiasm expecting electrification of their homes.

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 Unfulfilled Project Objectives

Two turbines remain outstanding due to exhaustion of project funds. The unexpected high inflationary environment that saw costs for fuel, turbines and all ancillary equipment going up drastically strained the budget. This resulted in two sites, Wiltshire Headquarters Clinic in Chivhu and Vungu Secondary School in Lower Gweru not benefiting from wind power, as the two turbines could not be paid for. This is despite the fact that both sites showed very high wind speeds to warrant installation of the turbines.