Planning on naivety

By Ogone Tlhage

By Ogone Tlhage
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In a recent post on facebook, I was motivated why naivety should drive the development planning. Forgetting the mental boxes we place on ourselves and pushing the boundaries of what we believe to be possible. Let me make an example using solar energy as the basis of my argument.
Windhoek is situated 357 kilometres east of Swakopmund and is a further 2000 metres higher. A desalination plant is currently in the pipeline by Namwater while another has already been commissioned by Areva.
Thinking beyond the constraints and while the idea has been considered before, when will we consider using desalinated water to drive industry in the industry extensive Central Area, just as a consideration, using solar energy to pump the water, and imagine for a moment what it could mean for the entire country if we one day pump water using the sun as an energy source.
It changes the energy landscape significantly. And it bodes well for Namibia taking the land mass and population density into consideration. These are the type of conversations that we should be having. I am not speaking against other conventional and mature forms of energy, I am not advocating for renewable to power the entire country, all I am saying is that it changes our thinking around energy.
Consider for a moment that upward of N$200 million has been spent by Namcor solely on Kudu, which will not even see the day of light in my lifetime, I strongly believe should the fundamentals surrounding it not change. I am not against Kudu, I am against its timing but Kudu’s not going anywhere and we have done work on Kudu but for now, let’s seek meaningful and lasting solutions.
Innosun constructed a 10 megawatt plant, for N$80 million less. That’s N$200 million not any one of us will benefit from, quite sadly. If you have to consider, that electricity is already flowing into the grid and its taken less then 18 months to construct while conversations around will continue for years on end.
Now imagine if that N$200 million was spent on yet another solar plant, that brings it up by 10mW and albeit minimal, we are becoming lesser and lesser dependent on our brothers and sisters in the power pool and harnessing energy freely available to us, and builds the maturity and competence of the people who will be tasked to manage this stations.
Now imagine N$200 million geared towards research and development in consultation with say a Tesla or MIT for example. Given the high solar irradiation would it not make sense to use Namibia as the laboratory test ground for solar energies. Its a clean energy, what is the impact to the environment really when compared against a ridiculous unproven marine phosphate mine.
Silly right? If renewable are in extensive use all over the world why are we not having that conversation in the country, more so, why are we not putting work into renewable as a solution.
I should say however that we are making progress, albeit at a snail’s pace. A 10 megawatt solar photovoltaic plant may not mean much now but for the 30 years Nampower will be buying power from Innosun effort should surely be geared toward renewable. And it really does not even have to be in the generation side of things.