While the apparent lack of rain may hit the Central Area the hardest, it remains business as usual at the van Eck coal power station situated in Windhoek’s Northern Industrial Area owing to efficient management of water resources. The power plant uses about one percent of the total amount of water supplied to Windhoek.
With an impending water shortage on the cards, the Economist asked the power utility just how it would keep the lights on. Responding to queries, Nampower said, “Taking into consideration the fact that if all three units run on full load, the power station will consume less than one percent of the total Windhoek water consumption per day, there is no immediate concern.”
The van Eck power station uses approximately 7560 cubic meters of water per month. Asked how much is lost to evaporation, Nampower said, “The Van Eck Power Station operates as a close-loop system and the water is re-used and only a small part evaporates during the [power generation] process.” Water utility Namwater recently announced that it will increase pumping of water from amongst others; Berg Aukas Mine Shaft, Kombat Mine, the Berg Aukas Boreholes, Karst 1 and from the Goblenz Boreholes. While much of the focus has been shifted towards the construction of the Kudu-to-gas power station, Nampower initiated the recommissioning of a turbine at the van Eck power station to the tune of N$330 million, it announced on its website. “This will result in a much more reliable power station, meeting its original design output of 120MW and a guaranteed base-load of at least 90MW,” said Nampower. Listed as a key deliverable, the rehabilitation of the van Eck power station should be completed in 2018. The refurbishment is being carried out under a Short-Term Critical Supply programme in the face of impending power supply deficits in the southern African region, most notably in South Africa and regional congestion in Zambia.
Whether power generation at the Ruacana hydro-electric power station will continue unabated remains to be seen owing to river flow and reporting chart compiled by Nampower. Over a seven day period, the flow of cubic metres dropped drastically from a high of 507.3 to a 157.1 cubic metres since 1 May 2015.