The Namibian Government has been offered power barges to curb the predicted 225 megawatt power deficit which the country will experience by 2016.
Barges are floating power plants which are used as interim power sources when a rapid power demand hits a country in advance of coming land-based power plants.
Power barges are unmotorised power ships, and they are simply conventional power plants installed on a deck barge.
They are easy to set up, and are simply towed into a harbour, plugged up to the grid and fired up. They come with a generator, powered by either diesel or gas turbines.
A barge with a generating capacity of 225MW can cost government about $250 million (N$303.8 million).????? AMOUNT
Minister of Finance (MoF) Calle Schlettwein confirmed to The Villager this week that the country has been offered the option of using barges to curb the predicted demand, but he unfortunately could not mention where the offer came from.
He said the option of barges is in part one of the country’s ways of searching for other options of getting a power plant before Kudu is constructed.
This came at a time when government cancelled the Xaris Energy 250MW power plant, which was meant to curb the predicted demand.
The other options being considered are coal, gas and solar projects with the African Development Bank being selected as advisers to help assess the most resourceful and cost-effective interim measures which can be realised until new generating capacity comes onstream in 2019.
“The option of barges is just part of the other strategies we are evaluating. We need to evaluate all possible options, and decide on which option to choose,” Schlettwein said.
He went on to say that the government is looking for a cost-effective power option in order to supply the country with electricity when the deficit occurs.
“We need to have a power-generation plant before the deficit occurs, and we are thus working on ways of making it accessible. For now, we are looking at interim power supplies until the baseload power plants are constructed,” he added.
“The options vary from hydro to solar power plants. We are also looking into gas or heavy oil,” Schlettwein said.
He could, however, not say how much government has set aside for the construction of interim power plants.
Half of the country’s power is imported from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Electricity capacity in the region is under severe strain as Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd, South Africa’s State-owned utility, struggles to meet demand in addition to the load-shedding, not to forget that the breakdowns at plants in both Zambia and Zimbabwe interrupt output.
The country will be facing a deficit because it is currently not self-sufficient. There were plans to build a 250MW power plant which was supposed to be an interim power plant before the Kudu gas power plant is constructed, which is the baseload power plant.
The 250MW power plant, whose tender was won by Xaris Energy, was cancelled by Government because it would cost the same price to construct as the Kudu gas plant. For a peak power plant to cost that much, it was believed to kill Kudu gas.
The Kudu power plant is a 1050MW gas-fired plant scheduled to begin producing electricity in about four years’ time.
By 2016, some agreements on electricity imports will come to an end, hence Government is seeking temporary solutions because of the weakening power capacity in the southern African region.
The contract with Eskom is one of the contracts which will expire next year, according to Namibia Power Corp, the State-owned utility known as Nampower.
According to research, peak power demand in the country is 524MW, whilst supply from local sources is 300MW.
In addition, electricity imports, which are estimated at N$2.6 billion this year, may reach N$12 billion in the next four years.
Meanwhile, Nampower’ Corporate Communications and Marketing Manager, Tangeni Kambangula said barges are a power supply option which was recommended by Government, adding that their line Ministry (Mines) is the right place to divulge that information.
Other African countries exploring barges
One of the African countries using barges is Ghana, the Osagyefo Barge, which is a 125 MW barge-mounted gas turbine electric power-generating station. It is located at Effasu in the western region of Ghana.
The 125MW power barge was bought by the Ghanaian government in 1995 with financial assistance from the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund of Japan.
It is a 77m-long barge equipped with a pair of single-cycle heavy-duty gas turbine units, has a combined generating capacity of 125MW and is designed to burn either natural gas or diesel fuel.
South Africa has due to load-shedding been exploring the options of barges, a Siemens Westinghouse 116MW power barge.
A number of South African companies are exploring the possibility of using such vessels to power their operations as electricity utility Eskom is struggling to light up the country.