NamPower is expected to launch its final biomass study soon following a hiatus of two years with much of the attention focused on the Kudu-to-Gas and Xaris power projects respectively.
NamPower responded to queries made by the Economist this week on the biomass power project of which a pre-feasibility study was completed in 2012.
“NamPower intends to launch the final feasibility study soon. The final feasibility study will firm up on assumptions made in the pre-feasibility study done some time ago,” Nampower said.
Nampower said, “the pre-feasibility study indicated that a biomass project is feasible, but that the biomass fuel supply chain logistics needs to be firmed up upon. The final cost of delivered biomass to the power station will determine the electricity price the plant requires to yield an Internal Rate of Return between 15 and 18%.
Key findings of the NamPower encroacher bush to power pre-feasibility study prepared by WSP Environmental Consultants found that, the technical assessment confirmed that suitable biomass energy conversion plants could be constructed using modern American and European combustion equipment supplied to Namibia.
Additionally, an environmental screening assessment confirmed the project would meet applicable standards and regulations related to plant emissions, water use and waste disposal. A review of the Namibian electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure confirmed that interconnection and load matching could be accommodated at the three sites under consideration and that resistive losses were not expected to be a significant factor according to the study.
A detailed assessment of the supply chains required to harvest, process, and deliver biomass to the sites under consideration have revealed that break even fuel supply costs are very likely lower than current South Africa coal export prices the study confirmed.
Encouragingly, the study found that there was also potential to use biomass as a replacement for coal at the existing Van Eck Power Station, particularly when biomass is pre-treated via a torrefaction process in order to transform it into a material with similar characteristics to coal.