Don't open energy market to rubbish - Dr Weiss

Mechanical Engineer and Director of AEE – Institute for Sustainable Technologies (AEE INTEC) in Austria Werner Weiss has warned Namibia against opening investment opportunities to poor quality energy infrastructure and production.

This comes at a time when Namibia has positioned itself on the full adoption and utilisation of solar energy to make cut backs on exports from the SADC energy pool. Speaking at the International SOLTRAIN Conference recently held in the capital, Weis said without proper import regulation and quality control of power infrastructure Namibia might end up with an unsustainable energy production. He said if you import systems or components from China, Europe or wherever without regulation, then you open up your market to rubbish.

“If you are not able to check the quality, if there are no regulations, you might get excellent quality, you might also get rubbish which is not worth the money,’’ he advised. The green energy expert said despite solar thermal energy projects having higher capital costs, the long term power generation and supply standard would be worth the investment.

"The major problem with renewable energy is that you have higher up-front costs, but then you have no running costs, the sun does not give you a bill like NamPower which sends you one every month,’’ he said. He thus urged government and private sector to overcome financial hurdles through close liaison with financial institutions. SOLTRAIN commenced in 2009 the initiative to switch from a fossil fuel energy supply to a sustainable energy supply system based on renewable energies, specifically thermal energy. Meanwhile Permanent Secretary in the mines ministry Simeon Negumbo confirmed that the national Solar Thermal Technology Roadmap has been adopted. ‘’I am happy to announce that the developed Solar Thermal Technology Roadmap for Namibia has now been adopted, with its objectives now included in the Renewable Energy policy of Namibia which has been developed by the Ministry of Mines and Energy in 2016,’’ he said.

Namibia is on the over-drive towards the full establishment of a low carbon economy typified by its disbursement of power-saver bulbs and replacement of electricity geysers with solar power ones. InnoSun Energy Holdings (Pvt) Ltd Business Developer Norman Nen dongo has confirmed that NamPower currently has regulation and standards set for solar thermal components bought from abroad by licensed Independent Power Producers (IPP) "We do not just come and bring whatever equipment we buy from outside, NamPower has a say over that, otherwise we end up having components that do not work,’’ he told The Villager. Director at Namibia Energy Institute (NEi) Dr Zivayi Chiguvare confirmed with this publication that his institution has already helped government erect solar powered geysers in its national housing scheme as a pilot project. Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia (EIF), and the SME bank further launched the “Green soft loan” scheme for Namibians to borrow up to N$100 000 for the purchase and installation of solar energy technologies installations (both solar thermal, and photovoltaic), at a prime rate below the interest rate charged by commercial banks. Negumbo affirmed that the Mines and Energy Ministry has also availed funds to the SOLTRAIN flagship project to accelerate the switch to sustainable energy.

"The Ministry of Mines and Energy and the Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) have contributed each N$150 000 as co-financing to the SOLTRAIN initiatives, especially for the procurement and installation of solar water heating systems at Vocational Training Centres throughout the country, for research purposes, and to contribute to curriculum development at tertiary institutions (both university and vocational training institutions),’’ he told The Villager. Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) has also backed up the green energy initiative by establishing a design and innovation laboratory that champions design and manufacturing of and provides expert training facilities in relevant technologies such as solar water heaters.

"I am quite happy to see that the greening of our economy is happening albeit very slowly, we are proud to have played an important role in this respect and stand up as the most prominent and technically able player in renewable energy sector,’’ commented NUST Vice Chancellor Tjama Tjivikua.