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Renewable energy on the spotlight as electricity shortages looms

As the country grapples with power shortages which are expected to increase this winter, power utility, Nampower says it is currently negotiating Power Purchase Agreements with three unnamed prospective wind energy developers.
At a recent press conference, MD Paulinus Shilamba announced that the country will face a shortage of 80MW during this winter. He said at the time that : “With the growing electricity demand mainly driven by the mining sector and other industries, it is worth mentioning that without additional capacity Namibia will face a shortage of about 80 MW of electricity by the winter of 2012.
Shilamba added that the deficit will continue to increase every year and a shortage of 300MW is forecast by 2015.
Nampower’s O’brien Hekandjo told the Economist that the power utility has put together a project called the STCS to address the winter and future shortages in Namibia until the next base load Power Station is commissioned in 2016.
Without giving specific details, Hekandjo said this project analyses and identifies preferred candidate projects that will be implemented in different timelines to address each shortage period. “This includes enhancing the efficiencies of our local generation, ongoing discussions with our regional counterparts to import electricity, emergency diesel generators and energy /electricity saving efforts from Namibian customers,” he said.
In its latest annual report released this week, Nampower says it is currently negotiating Power Purchase Agreements with three prospective wind energy developers, one in Lüderitz and two in the Walvis Bay area. All three parties have already been issued with conditional generation licence by the Electricity Control Board.
In addition, Nampower says it continues to provide technical advice to a PV/Diesel hybrid mini-grid installation in Tsumkwe. The Tsumkwe energy project is reportedly one of the largest projects of its kind in Africa.
The power utility is also supporting a N$14 million biomass project near Outjo popularly known as the C-Bend – a pilot plant which utilises invader bush to generate 250kW of electricity. Nampower is also conducting a biomass feasibility study into the utilisation of large scale invader bush to fire a power station of between 10 to 20MW. A final report on the sustainability of the project is expected mid this year.
The increased focus on renewable energy comes at a time when energy experts have been calling for Namibia to go 100% renewable energy because of the country’s abundant sunshine and wind. However Nampower had previously opposed over reliance on renewable energy arguing that power generated from such sources is expensive.

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