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Why Is Namibia Not Meeting Its Energy Demands?

By:Staff writer

Onesmus Nana. Hangula

Namibia has a load demand of approximately 700 MW, with more than 60% of the power imported .

The power is imported mainly from South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and sometimes Mozambique.

Namibia has four power stations, namely Ruacana- Hydro (330MW), Van Eck – Coal (120MW), Paratus – Diesel (24MW), and Anixas – Diesel (22.5MW).

Furthermore, the 40% of power consumed by the Namibian load is generated locally by Nampower and local Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

In addition, the country has several solar plants and one wind farm, established under the Renewable Energy Feed In Tariff (REFIT) programme which was developed under the Ministry of Mines and Energy.

Although the local installed power generation capacity is over 500 MW, the facilities do not run at full capacity.

For instance, the Ruacana power station, due to climate reasons, has not been able to run at full capacity, and there were some years (around 2017) when the power station was not generating at all during the dry seasons.

The Van Eck power station does not run at full capacity as well, reason being that the facility is old and needs immediate maintenance.

The diesel power plants located in Walvis Bay do not operate 24 hours of the day.They are mainly used for emergencies to meet the demand when the country cannot acquire enough from its available generation, imports and IPPs.

For all these at hand, the country is unable to meet its power demand at the moment and left with only the option to import power.

There is an increase in power demand in the country yearly, at a rate of about 5%. The increase in power demand is experienced both in urban and rural areas.

To cater for areas distant from the grid, the Ministry of Mines and Energy established a Solar Revolving Fund (SRF), a fund that finances solar systems for rural dwellers through subsidised loans. The loan is repaid at a 5% fixed interest rate per annum over 5 years.

However, the solar systems ideal for business are not funded under the SRF programme.These systems cost around N$200 000.This discourages business set up in areas far from the grid.

Lastly, Namibia is unable to meet its power demand because energy consultants, energy officers, installers, and most stakeholders are focusing a lot on intermittent energy sources.Intermittent energy sources are mostly renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, tidal, and so on.

They are really good sources because they do not cause pollution, they are available abundantly in Namibia, and they are fuel free.

They do not give out a lot of power to meet the power demand Namibia needs now, and for this, much research is taking place at the moment to make these technologies more efficient.

The improvements in efficiencies definitely come with cost.

This is why the Ombepo wind farm in Luderitz cost N$180 million, just for only 5MW.
Imagine we have 600MW national load, but 5MW is costing N$180 MW.

In addition, the 5 MW solar parks in Namibia are constructed at a cost of N$300 million and more.

Last year, a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) was proposed at Omburu station in Namibia.It is an awesome initiation, which was never done on a huge scale even in advanced countries.The battery system cannot meet the demand of power deficit in Namibia. It will only help reduce imports at night.

Although green hydrogen is a good initiation, GH2 has only the potential of creating jobs and not helping Namibia with its energy problems.We need to understand that Namibia, in the deal of GH2, will only produce Hydrogen and export it to Europe and America.

Namibia itself will not make use of the Hydrogen.

We do not even have fuel cells in place to make use of hydrogen, we also do not have the skills required to handle challenges such as heat and environmental impacts associated with fuel cells in which hydrogen is turned into water and gives off electricity.

Until Namibia gets its own reliable power generation system, investors will not be attracted to our country. Onesmus Nana. Hangula | B.Sc Electrical Engineering

Staff Writer

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