Relief from short term power
Nampower’s hopes to ride out the precarious electricity situation are pinned on an array of short-term projects, each of which will contribute to make up for the estimated shortfall in local generation between now and the end of 2016.
The situation became acute just over a month ago when, on 05 March Nampower experienced a deficit of 224 mW.
According to Nampower, for the time being, the shortfall between supply and demand continues to be supplemented by imports from various power utilities in the region as part of the standing power purchase agreements.
Nampower’s managing director, Paulinus Shilamba, said earlier this week that the first unit at Van Eck Power Station in Windhoek is expected to return to service this month with the last unit expected for return to service by the end of September.
Shilamba said, “the Van Eck power station has been out of service for rehabilitation work since 2012” stating that the return of Van Eck will result in a much more reliable and efficient power station meeting its original design output of 120 mW and a guaranteed base-load output of 90 mW at least for the next 10 years.
Other projects , like the Demand Side Management (DSM) and the 80 mW power purchase agreement with ZPC of Zimbabwe which commenced this month are set to help carry the power utility through. Shilamba said Nampower will continue with the implementation of the DSM project as approved by Cabinet in December 2013.
“Procurement for the 1 million LED bulbs and preparation for the 20,000 solar water heaters are at an advanced stage and the rolling out of these programmes will happen by the second quarter of 2015,” he added.
On the hydro side of power generation, Shilamba said the runner replacements at Ruacana for Unit 1 were completed and commissioned last year in December, with the replacement of runners for Unit 2 and 3 expected to be done during the low flow and to be commissioned before year end.
“With the completion of the project the efficiency of the Ruacana power station will improve significantly and with the same volume of water the maximum output will increase by 15mW from the current 332 mW to 347 mW,” he said.
The power utility will also peg its hopes on the 250 mW Erongo gas power station that has made significant progress with regard to the implementation. “This project in which Nampower will have 30% equity shareholding, will cost approximately N$7,66 billion and will reach commercial operation by August 2016,” Shilamba said.
He noted that the most critical period in terms of power will be after August 2016 when an enormous strain will be placed on the system, when an additional generation capacity of at least 250 mW will be needed to ensure a secure supply.
“Amongst the challenges during that period will be the expiry of the bilateral agreement with Eskom in 2016, lower output from Ruacana, step loads and general higher economic growth,” he added.
Meanwhile the power utility said that power tariffs will increase by an average 13% for the next six years within which time it is expected that the Kudu gas-to-power project would have been commissioned.