Nampower guarantees winter power
The telltale columns of smoke in the two stacks at Windhoek’s Van Eck coal-fired power station, are the first sign that Nampower has to shift to more local generation, as the winter increases in intensity.
Power utility company, Nampower this week confirmed that they have secured enough energy capacity for the coming winter and beyond and there will be no risk of load shedding.
NamPower’s acting Managing Director, Mr. Isac Tjombonde’ told the Economist that the Namibian maximum demand expected for the coming winter is 630MW, without including Skorpion Zinc mine and the utility firm can gladly say they have secured sufficient energy.
Concern over the possibility of power shortages arose from the observation of the Ruacana River flow which had dropped to 110m3/sec early this week. Tjombonde said this flow is adequate to run all three available turbine units at full capacity during the critical hours.
“The river flow is expected to drop further as there is not much inflow coming in. In such instances, Ruacana is optimized to run during peak hours when the power is not available in the region. The river flow will be in the descent mode up until December this year where we are expected to receive rain again,” he explained.
Tjombonde said that NamPower is sourcing about 40% from internal power plants, namely the Ruacana hydro power plant, which has an installed capacity of 347 MW, but only three units out of four are available which yields a maximum capacity of 262MW, Van Eck coal power station (installed capacity 80 MW), Anixas diesel power station (installed capacity 22.3 MW) and Omburu solar power plant (4.5 MW).
“Ruacana hydro power station is a run-of-the-river station and due to good rains experienced this year in the highlands of Angola, a favourable percentage of the total installed capacity from the power station will be available,” he added.
According to Tjombonde, the remaining 60% will be sourced from Zambia’s ZESCO (39 MW) and Zimbabwe’s ZPC (80 MW) at a load factor of 50%, and from South Africa’s ESKOM (200MW).
“These are firm supplies which are not subject to interruption even in the event where the respective countries are load shedding. NamPower also have a non-firm agreement with ESKOM for up to 300MW to supply the balance in the event the aforementioned supply sources [are not able] to meet the demand at any given time,” he said.
In terms of contingency plans in case the power supply is strained, Tjombonde said in the event NamPower should experience power shortage this winter, NamPower has put in place loadshedding mitigating measures such as Virtual Power Station (VPS) and ripple control.
“NamPower is also an operating member in the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) and actively involved in the trading activities through Month Ahead, Week Ahead, Day Ahead Market (DAM) and Intra-Day Market. NamPower may purchase some of its energy requirements through these markets to meet its country’s energy requirement,” he added.