Massive river flow helps generate more power
With South Africa battling with regular blackouts and load shedding, there seems to be a glimmer of hope in terms of local power generation as suggested by the recent upsurge in the flow of the Kunene River which has in the past helped ease electricity supply challenges.
This week’s readings show that there is a significant and rapid rise in the river’s flow which leaped from 135.8m3/sec recorded on 1 December to a massive flow now chalked at 537.9 m3/sec, recorded on 17 December.
In response to questions from the Economist, the power utility said, “The good rains in the Angolan catchment area south of the Gove dam, has resulted in the high Kunene River flow.”
The Kunene River houses Namibia’s only hydropower facility, the Ruacana Power Station which is one of Nampower’s flagship power stations, forming the core of the local power supply system. With an installed capacity of 332 MW, output at the Ruacana power station varies between 140 and 240 MW depending on the time of the day, and the flow in the river.
Said the power utility, “Currently four units are operating at full output, amounting to 330 MW. Unit 1 is still on test run as the runner was replaced as part of the refurbishment programme on units 1 to 3. These units were designed and commissioned in the 1970s and have much lower efficiencies than those designed today using state-of-the-art computer software.”
The resultant efficiency gains are expected to add more available mega watts to the power station and bring the current 330 MW output closer to the the total installed capacity at Ruacana. With the river in flood, the dependence on power imported from South Africa is substantially reduced.
Meanwhile in terms of importation of power, NamPower stated in November that electricity tariffs for the consumers are projected to be hiked again. For 2015 the cost of imports is estimatd to amount to N$2.4 billion, eventually reaching a total of N$10 billion over the next 4 years, while the power utility will require a colossal N$30 billion for new generation and transmission projects over the next 5 to 6 years.