Fluctuations in fossil fuel prices significantly affect the economies of countries, especially oil-importing countries, hence these countries are thoroughly investigating the increase in the utilization of renewable energy resources as it is abundant and locally available in all the countries despite challenges. Renewable energy systems (RES) such as solar and wind systems offer suitable alternatives for fossil fuels and could ensure the energy security of countries in a feasible way. Zimbabwe is one of the African countries that import a significant portion of its energy needs which endanger the energy security of the country. Several studies in the literature discussed the feasibility of different standalone and hybrid RES either with or without energy storage systems to either maximize the technical feasibility or the economic feasibility; however, none of the studies considered maximizing both feasibilities at the same time. Therefore, we present a techno-economic comparison of standalone wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) in addition to hybrid PV/wind systems based on maximizing the RES fraction with levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) being less than or equal to the local grid tariff where Gwanda, Zimbabwe, is the case study. The methodology suggested in this study could increase the utilization of renewable energy resources feasibly and at the same time increase the energy security of the country by decreasing dependency on imported energy. The results indicate that the PV/wind hybrid system does not only have the best economic benefits represented by the net present value (NPV) and the payback period (PBP), but also the best technical performance; where the maximum feasible size of the hybrid system-2 MW wind and 1 MW PV-has RES fraction of 65.07%, LCOE of 0.1 USD/kWh, PBP of 3.94 years, internal rate of return of 14.04% and NPV of 3.06 × 106 USD. Having similar systems for different cities in Zimbabwe will decrease the energy bill significantly and contribute toward the energy security of the country.

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Published in Inventions, v. 5, issue 3, 27.

© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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