Osona solar plant plans connection to national grid

Privately-owned Independent Power Producer (IPP) Osona 5 MW solar plant’s construction has come to near completion and is set to begin providing electricity to the Namibia Power Corporation (Nampower) by mid-August, The Villager understands.
The $N130 billion budgeted Osona Solar Park construction which commenced in February this year and is near its completion phase managed to create an approximate 240 jobs for local Namibians from its development phase right up to connection with off-taker, Nampower.
Speaking to this publication on the plant’s 26 hector solar park located a few kilometers outside Otjiwarongo recently, Managing Director of InnoSun Energy Holdings, which is responsible for Osona, Thomas Verhaeghe, confirmed that the plant will be providing power  to Nampower this coming August.
“We will be connecting in mid-August to the national network. This plant will be the fourth one to be commissioned in Namibia with Omburu power plant having been commissioned last year on the 8th of May and has been in operation for more than a year,  its production of electricity is great so far,” said Verhaeghe.
InnoSun Energy Holding (Pty) Ltd is owned by Black Diamond Investment, making it a Franco-Namibian venture.
With 13 other independent power producers having signed power purchase agreements (PPAs) with Nampower to supply a total of 70MW of renewable energy in the next 18 months, the Managing Director said he was looking forward to a mutual working environment with other producers outside the scope of fierce competition.
“We cannot talk about competition, at the end of the day we want to provide electricity to Namibia, and that means clean and sustainable sources of energy, in fact we do not compete at all. We try to assist each other as independent power producers on how to provide a sustainable supply of energy to the whole nation,” said Verhaeghe.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Villager InnoSun Energy Holding Business Developer, Norman Nendongo, confirmed that although permits had long been issued for independent power producers to start investment in local energy production and supply no off-takers had taken any action.
“Permits for these projects were issued a long time ago, yet no one was quick to take any action and as such Nampower came with this (Renewable Feed-In Tariff) program to make sure those issued with permits can start generating power,” said Nendongo.
With Namibia currently importing 70% of its electricity from the Southern African Power Pool, there is great need for the nation to harness available local resources like solar and wind energy to make way for a paradigm shift from outside dependency which is costly.
“The whole initiative is at least to have our own generation and have our own money circulating in our own country rather than spending abroad,” Nendongo told The Villager.
 The solar park is built on-grid meaning it has to sense the Nampower grid in order to export the electricity, the reason being that electricity exported to Nampower goes with a high voltage, which would entail catastrophic results if the Nampower’s system is not switched on to receive power.
And because the invertors work with electricity, the solar power plant imports 1% of electricity from Nampower at a standard cost during the night to energise the invertors while during the day the plant will be exporting to the national power utility.
Meanwhile Namibia’s Electricity Control Board (ECB) recently approved a Nampower tariff hike for the financial period of 2016/2017, and in an attempt to mitigate the impact of high tariffs the ECB in conjunction with the Ministry of Mines and Energy developed national support mechanisms, the National Electricity Support Tariff Mechanism and the National Support Mechanism for Improving Rural and Urban Electrification.
These are intended to make electricity affordable through a subsidized tariff to household consumers on connection capacity below 15 Amps and assisting distribution licensees to substantially electrify households in the urban and rural areas.