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Nampower confirms power shortages

The MD of power utility, Nampower, Paulinus Shilamba has confirmed recent reports that the country could face power shortages as early as next year due to growing demand driven by increased mining activities.
Shilamba told journalists on Tuesday that Namibia will face a shortage of about 80MW of electricity by the winter of 2012.
He said: “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.
“The deficit will continue to increase every year and a shortage of 300MW is forecast by 2015.”
Shilamba added that the situation could be made worse by the expiry of the ZESA power supply agreement which comes to an end in 2013.
He was, however, optimistic that an agreement will soon be reached with ZESA to extend the  power supply agreement for another period of approximately six months.
“At Nampower we are doing everything in our power to put measures in place that will enable us to address the current and future power supply challenges.”
The revelations come amid calls for the country to start looking at renewable energy as an option for the country’s precarious power supply.
An energy expert recently said Namibia is the only country in the world that can go 100% renewable energy as it is blessed with abundant sunshine and wind. However, Shilamba shot down calls for increased reliability on renewable energy, saying that power generated from such sources was expensive.
He said: “You must remember that there are shortcomings with renewable energy, for instance, solar energy. You can only generate energy during the day and not during the night or when there is cloud cover.
“Renewable energy sources of energy are also expensive. The average price of energy generated in the Nampower system is 45c per kWh. A solar power plant will not generate power at a cost less than N$1 per kWh. Who is going to pay for electricity at such rates?
Shilamba denied rumours that Nampower was frustrating independent power producers by stalling on negotiations to sign power purchase agreements saying: “We are not frustrating independent power producers. We cannot just be forced to sign a power purchase agreement which is expensive.
“Nampower is willing to sign a power purchase agreement as long as the power, tarrifs and technology used is right.
“We have not been approached by an independent power producer who is willing to sell electricity for less than N$1 per kWh.”
Shilamba however conceded that there was need to have balanced energy generation.
“The strategy here is we cannot ignore renewable energy. It is the future and as you know, the prices (of renewable energy) will come down in the long run.
“If we have a mix of 30MW coming from PV and power from Ruacana at 45c, then the blended price that the customer will pay is maybe 3c more. The strategy is not to go full scale on renewable energy but to have smaller projects,” he concluded.

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