Rains bring power to Nam

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Magreth Nunuhe

Windhoek – Namibia has been able to save at least 3% in energy imports, thanks to good rains received this year. The Ruacana Hydropower Station is currently generating on full load and because of the increased local generation, NamPower’s energy imports have been reduced from 60% to 57%.

“NamPower is saving some costs in terms of imports. The savings can further also be attributed to improvements in the integration of renewable energy from local Independent Power Producers (IPPs),” said NamPower’s public relations manager, Tangeni Kambangula.

Namibia’s overall current peak demand for electricity is 650 MWs, but the country’s main energy provider, the Ruacana Hydro Power Station has an installed capacity of 347MW, which is supplemented by the ANIXAS Power Station (diesel-powered station at Walvis Bay in the west of Namibia), with an installed capacity of 22.4 MW.

“It is, however, a standby power plant, meaning it is only dispatched during emergency situations when the primary power supply is not available,” said Kambangula.

The Van Eck Power Station in Windhoek, with an installed capacity of 120 MW, is currently undergoing refurbishment and is being used in Synchronous Condenser Operation mode in order to stabilise the transmission grid rather than to generate power.

Other supplements to energy supply in the interim are a number of small generation projects, which include private participation to reduce reliance on imports while waiting on mega projects, such as, the Kudu Power Project and Baynes Hydro Power Project to realise. 

Some of the renewable plants already in operation are the solar power purchase agreements NamPower signed for 4.5MW with Innosun (Omburu) and a 20MW power purchase agreement with Greenam Energy that is expected to feed into the grid by mid-2018.

“Also soon to come on board is a 37MW Solar Energy plant by Alten Solar Power (Hardap Pty Ltd), which was awarded beginning of 2017. This plant is expected to feed into the grid as from July 2018,” said Kambangula.

Further to that, NamPower signed a power purchase agreement with Diaz Wind Power for the off-take of 44MW from a wind generation plant in December 2017 to be developed near Lüderitz in the south.

NamPower has also concluded power purchase agreements with 14 local renewable energy independent power producers, each to generate 5MW under the Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff programme.

Ten IPPs were commissioned in 2016 and 2017 with a total capacity of 50MW, while the remaining four IPPs are expected to become operational by end of the year. 

“However, it is important to note that Namibia will remain a net-importer until a baseload, a station capable of operating 24 hours a day and shut down only when routine maintenance is required or due to unforeseen circumstances, or mid-merit power plant which is reliable, affordable and with adequate capacity to cater to the energy needs of the country is built,” noted Kambangula.

Namibia has a special arrangement between NamPower and Eskom, South Africa’s power utility, which enables Namibia to enjoy special rates in using surplus energy from its neighbour.

Namibia also imports electricity from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique and the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP) Day Ahead Market, which is sourced from any other producers in the region.

The supply of dependable and affordable electricity is crucial for Namibia’s economy as demand currently outstrips supply.

To this end, the Ministry of Mines and Energy has drafted the National Integrated Resource Plan, which provides a 20-year development plan for electricity supply to secure future generation assets through a mix of renewable and baseload power as well as regional power trade through SAPP.

NamPower and the Electricity Control Board are in the process of determining the grid’s capacity to handle intermittent renewable resources. Currently, 70% of urban households have access to electricity, while only 19% of rural households can access electricity.

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