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Battery system at NamPower Lithops Substation poses medium risk for Namib flora – EIA

Battery system at NamPower Lithops Substation poses medium risk for Namib flora – EIA

By Adolf Kaure.

A public meeting on the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for the NamPower Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) planned at the Lithops Substation was recently held at Swakopmund.

Funds to the value of N$670.25 million were sourced through international open bidding as a GCF loan from the World Bank worth N$383 million along with a Green Climates Fund loan of N$287.25million.

Lithops is the substation commissioned in 2014 to supply the Husab mine with electricity. The BESS extension will have a lifetime of 19 years adding an energy capacity of 90MWh to the Namibian power grid.

Consultant Environmental Assessment Practitioner at Fichtner, Christina Mansfeld said that the project carries a medium risk for the flora of the Namib Naukluft National Park.

“The species at risk are not species of high concern – they are euphorbias. We have a list of species of concern that are known to exist in that area, so one of the conditions that we have set up is that prior to the groundbreaking, to have experts from the National Botanical Research Institute of Namibia and other experts from the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia to do the relocation.”

“The recommendation is to work together with the Ministry of Environment Forestry and Tourism’s directorate of Wildlife and National Parks to identify areas of relocation where there is minimal impact from people,” said Mansfeld.

According to Mansfeld, the location chosen for the project is open and vast, contributing to not having a need for blasting preserving the topography, geology, biodiversity, cultural heritage of the site and no significant noise pollution.

The Lithops Substation is part of NamPower’s short-to-medium term strategy to fulfill the future energy demand.

Its BESS system will comprise three major components. This includes the battery which is the safely secured energy container and the power conversion system known as the inverter which convert Direct Current to Alternating Current.

All these components will be housed at the Lithops Substation.

When questioned on the potential harm of the lithium batteries to the environment and where they would be disposed, NamPower Engineer, Elifas lilende said that the batteries would only be disposed by its manufacturer overseas after 19 years when the project’s lifespan comes to an end.

“Hazardous sites that are here in Walvis Bay as well as in Windhoek, Oranjemund and I think Dundee, are not able to handle the large quantities of these batteries.”

“It also does not make economic sense to build a big site in Walvis Bay on a load that will come only after 19 years’ time. It is not practical for Namibia.”

“The manufacturers of this battery products set up these kinds of disposable units. So as part of the product cost, the decommissioning cost is part of it. So, they have to pick it up at the end of its lifetime and dispose of it safely in their own country in a proper set up,” said lilende.

A twenty-one-day period, which ends on 30 April, has been given to all Interested and Affected Parties to submit all comments and concerns to Ms Mansfeld at [email protected] .

Once the assessment is complete, Nampower will apply for an Environmental Clearance Certificate.

Environmental Assessment Practitioner, Christina Mansfeld explaines the impact the battery system at the Lithops Substation would have on the Namib Naukluft National Park. (Photograph by Adolf Kaure)


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