“Break Nampower’s monopoly”
An expert in renewable energy has urged government to break the monopoly of power utility, Nampower if the country is serious about providing cheap electricity and 100% coverage.
Harald Schütt of Amusha Consultancy said as long as Nampower exists in its current format, poor people living in marginalised communities will continue living without electricity supply.
He said: “Break up the monopoly of Nampower. They can never — because of their structure and obligation to make money — supply the entire country with electricity.”
He added that Namibia should concentrate on looking for renewable energy solutions as opposed to fossil and nuclear solutions as Namibia is the only country in the world that could and should be the first to go 100% renewable energy.
“We have 6.5 kWh/m2/day on national average, a small and scattered population and a very small consumption of electrical power (less than a middle sized town in Germany), meaning the investment is still relatively small to install big percentages of renewable energy in the national mix.
“Over time all renewable solutions are cheaper than all fossil and nuclear solutions. Opinions and estimations differ with regard to the timespan after which a renewable energy investment generates money to the owner, but not about the fact that this will eventually happen.
“If we want to guarantee that each and every dollar accumulates maximum interest in the shortest time possible, making the rich owners of capital increasingly richer without limits, then we can keep doing what we are doing, but this will aggravate the crisis,” he warned.
Schütt said there was need for government to take the initiative and decide what is best for the country.
“Someone has to make the political decision about what this country wants. We must make up our minds on where our future lies; whether it is in a centralised, fossil powered supply system that is merely able to provide for about a third of the population at a profit or a decentralised, renewable energy-based system of generation, where the value streams are kept as local as possible and which includes as many people in the value stream as possible.”
He argued that decentralised renewable energy generation has hardly any transmission losses and saves a lot of investment in long, high voltage power lines.
“However, it will require low-voltage, local transmission grids, which in the moment do not make sense (profit) for Nampower because the consumption is too low to justify such investment.”
He blamed Nampower’s monopoly for the failure by the independent power producers (IPP) to bring their projects on board.
“Nampower has a monopoly to take all power from systems bigger than 500 kW and the Electricity Control Board monopolised the trade by quiring an IPP’s to have a license as soon as they are sell the first kWh.
“The Germans made a law, the Renewable Energy Feed-in Law (REFiT), that forced the utilities to buy renewable energy electricity at a certain price as a first priority and only after that they could use their own generation capacity.
“Namibia needs either such a law, and/or the breaking of the monopoly. This is what all other industrialised nations did.”
Schütt questioned the wisdom to invest billions of dollars in the Inter-Caprivi Link which does not generate any electricity while ignoring power producing projects.
“They will therefore rather invest in a Caprivi Link, that costs N$3.5 billion but does not generate a single kWh but opens the opportunity to purchase power from Zambia, when it is cheaper there and sell it to Angola, or get it from Zimbabwe and sell it in Namibia.”
He urged government to revisit the 2007 Solar Water Heater policy and amend it to include private buildings saying this will result in the country saving millions of dollars in electricity costs.
According to research done by Robert Schultz from DRFN, there are just below 100,000 electric water heaters in Namibia consuming more than N$200 million worth of peak electricity per annum.
“This money would, after repaying the purchase price, be available as disposable income that can enhance local markets for consumer-goods (preferably manufactured in Namibia) or other services generating a lot of VAT for the receiver of revenue in the process,” argued Schütt.