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NAM PLANS N$450M ENERGY STORAGE

By: Erastus Nghiinomenwa 

The issue of intermittent power will soon be solved, and the country will be able to store cheap imported electricity for later use through its N$450 million planned energy storage.

This is through the planned construction of a 58 MW Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) Plant situated at the Omburu Substation, located 12km south-east of Omaruru.

This was confirmed by the country’s energy utility, Nampower, to The Villager last week after the parastatal has signed a grant agreement to construct the first-ever utility-scale Battery Energy Storage System.

NamPower says Namibia is the first to develop utility-scale storage projects in Southern Africa, making the BESS project a flagship project.

The BESS will be a stand-alone grid-connected installation. Therefore, it will be charged with electricity from the grid during off-peak periods when the cost of electricity is least expensive and discharged during peak times to maximise energy arbitrage.

Moreover, the battery storage will also take on three primary tasks related to the challenges of a Renewable Energy (RE) expansion, power utility explained.

The KfW Development Bank will provide €20 million in grant funding for the project through its GET FiT programme.

As such, KfW will only be providing funding for the Project, and NamPower will manage and implement the project.

Nampower will also contribute 20% of the total project costs to be used for the construction of the transmission interconnection and the local taxes and duties (which are not included in the grant funds).

The BESS will be owned and operated by NamPower and therefore independent power producers cannot utilise it. 

The battery storage is aimed for a combination of use-case applications that were identified for the BESS during operation, namely peak shifting, arbitrage, provision of emergency energy, ramp-rate control and reactive power control. 

These use-case applications will be dynamically stacked according to their priority to ensure that the BESS operates according to the most economical dispatch strategy. 

Once commissioned, NamPower will be able to utilise a combination of various applications which were identified for the Omburu BESS.

Currently this BESS will provide the largest battery energy storage capacity in the region (58MW/72 MWh). 

As a result, it will tackle challenges of the intermittent Renewable Energy (RE) expansion as well as cheaper electricity imports from the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) can be stored in the BESS.

Then used to supply customers during peak times and would offset fossil energy from the aging local Van Eck coal power plant.

Secondly, the Nampower team explained that the electricity grid in Namibia will be stabilised as short and medium-term power fluctuations from RE generation can be load-followed by the storage system. 

“Given the planned growth of RE, this will ensure a stable power supply in the long term and create good production conditions for future growth and economic development,” the team stated.

KfW’ country director Barbara Pirich explained that as the project is the first of its kind in Southern Africa, it fulfills a pioneering function and it is expected that subsequent tasks in the same field will benefit substantially from the experience gained from his project.

The Villager also asked Nampower to explain what is in it for Germany for giving the €20 million grant, which the utility highlighted that is just to climate impact mainly.

The Nampower team explained that one of the conditions of the grant is that the project should contribute to a climate and environmentally friendly initiative, with reliable and cost-efficient power supply for Namibia.

This has to be achieved through the reduction in CO2 emissions by reducing the operation of Van Eck when possible.

At the same time the project should assist in grid loading of congested power lines.

The grant also came with a condition that the power utility should increase the integration potential of intermittent renewable energy generation such as wind and PV.

In adherence to World Bank Environmental and Social Standards during the execution, operation and decommissioning of the project.

WHEN WILL IT COME?

Nampower updated that the Feasibility Study was concluded in December 2020.

Them being the project developer, will appoint an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor to construct the project. 

The procurement process follows a two- stage process- the first stage is a pre-qualification stage and the second stage will request for proposals from all the entities that have been prequalified.

The utility indicated that the prequalification process was concluded in December 2021. 

A total of 18 applications for prequalification were received and a total of 12 applicants were prequalified. 

The second bidding stage will commence in the first quarter of 2022 and the preferred bidder is expected to be announced in the last quarter of 2022. 

Construction is only expected to commence in 2023.

Once the Contractor is appointed the total project duration is estimated to be approximately 12 months while the construction phase is expected to be approximately three months.

The operational lifetime of the BESS is estimated to be between 14 and 19 years, depending on utilisation. 

The project could be augmented in future to increase its operational lifetime. Email: erastus@thevillager.com.na

 

Julia Heita

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