NamPower embracing IPPs

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By Timo Shihepo

Windhoek - Namibia’s power utility, NamPower, says it has the will to work with independent power producers (IPPs), as long as the latter has the best interest of serving the Namibian consumer.

NamPower has been accused of preventing IPPs from entering the market with some players accusing the utility of doing this as a way of preserving a monopoly in the country.

However, speaking to The Southern Times in a recent interview, NamPower’s managing director, Simson Haulofu dismissed these allegations saying that they are the epitome of misrepresentation.

He said NamPower has been spearheading the attraction of IPPs in the country. According to him, NamPower has gone all out to accommodate IPPs in the power sector.

Haulofu said apart from the four IPPs that NamPower has helped to start operating, it has contracted 14 IPPs in a programme that gives 5 MW to each of these IPPs.

“That’s 70 MW altogether. Three of them have commissioned. They are sending power to the grid while most of them are more than 50% complete. Our grid also supports IPPs who are setting up projects in the RED (Regional Electricity Distributors) areas,” he says.

About 3% of Namibia’s solar energy can power the whole of Europe, however, despite the abundant solar energy the country is yet to fully embrace the use of renewable energy.  

The Southern Times understands that NamPower has refused to work with some IPPs because the latter want to put all the risks on the utility.

NamPower, on the other hand, says it welcomes IPPs in the country as long as the IPPs are not putting the risks on them. 

The IPPs are demanding extremes such as should there be war in the country and the IPP station is destroyed NamPower should rebuild it. 

“Since my time here, I have never seen a credible IPP that was turned away unless there are disagreements in prices. If a Photovoltaic (PV) is 80 cents per kilowatt hour and one IPP comes here say for R2, naturally we say no simply because no one will buy that power in Namibia,” said Haulofu.

Electricity Control Board chief executive officer, Foibe Namene, earlier told The Southern Times that one of the reasons preventing these IPPs from taking off especially those intending to put up utility scale (large) power projects, is that they are generally reluctant to invest in a specific project without government guarantees.

 “The absence of any guarantees or support package from the government makes the undertaking more expensive due to the high return requirements of the equity providers. These developments are mostly project financed. Currently, the government does not offer guarantees,” she said.

Namene said in an effort to encourage investment, the regulator has issued a number of conditional licences for biomass, wind, and solar photovoltaic and concentrated solar power projects.

She, however, said despite these efforts, to date, the pace of operational IPPs in the country remains slow. Under the Interim Renewable Energy Feed in Tariff programme, about 14 IPPs were earmarked to be operational since 2016. 

However, there is no clear data as to how many are operational today. -TST archives

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