J Gwamuri* , S Mhlanga1 Applied Physics and Radiography Department, Faculty of Applied Sciences, National University of Science and Technology, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Email:

Key words: Photovoltaic modules, insolation, charge controller, system sizing, continuous wattage, surge wattage.


Zimbabwe is currently experiencing daily load shedding as the utility power company; the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) is failing to cope with the ever increasing energy demand. Selbourne Brooks is one of the new up-market suburbs in the city of Bulawayo where residents have been waiting to be connected to the grid for more than five years. A feasibility study was conducted in the area to establish the status and potential of Solar Home System (SHS) as an alternative source of energy for urban dwellers in Zimbabwe. This paper explores the issues mainly related to system requirements and availability, policies, standards, awareness, participation and investments all of which are major ingredients of sustainable implementation of the solar project in Zimbabwe. Insights into how system sizing can help in implementing PV Systems in Africa in a sustainable way are also included in the analysis. An energy audit was carried out in both the high density residential areas and low density residential areas. It was established that in Zimbabwean urban areas, on average, households in the high density areas were allocated 1.7kVA while those in the Low density suburbs were allocated 13.5kVA. Energy consumption differed from household to household as it was mainly influenced by both the number and the type of appliances per individual household. A system capable of supplying energy of 13.5kVA was designed and component sizing was carried out. Major system components such as the photovoltaic modules, the charge controller, battery array and inverter are specified assuming insolation levels of eight average sun hours per day. An estimate of the total system costing is included together with the possible ways of lowering system costs without compromising on the total system performance.