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Corporate companies turn to solar power use

Fri, 27 January 2017 19:15
by Rodney Pienaar

Some corporate companies are turning to use renewable solar energy by installing Solar Photovoltaic (SPV), installations to supply electrical energy to their business but this will not lift the burden of Nampower.

According to Rosa Nikanor, Public Relations Officer at NamPower, with increased use of SPV installations regardless if it is grid scale or rooftop installations the traditional role of power utilities have come under pressure as solar photovoltaic installations only supply the corporate companies. “The burden of NamPower being seen as the supplier of last resort will not be easily lifted by these typical business PV installations. Such renewable power generators without storage will remain dependent on the major energy suppliers in the periods that the resource is not available.

To some extend this may even increase the burden as the energy should be available from NamPower on demand without any prior notice,” Nikanor said. She further added that NamPower is investigating innovative and affordable solutions to store energy, shift loads and implement energy efficient devices in order to further the penetration of renewable energy in Namibia. SPV energy is widely perceived as a promising technology for electricity generations in remote locations in developing countries.

The Villager understands that the scale of SPV installations referred to as being installed by corporate companies is generally of such size only to offset the specific company’s energy consumption during the day. “The excess energy being generated could possibly be used to serve households if available but the national peak energy demand typically falls outside normal business hours and the availability of renewable sources does not fully co-inside with the occurrence of the peak demand,” Nikanor said. She further noted that this provides for new investment opportunities in innovative, cost-effective and affordable solutions to store energy, shift loads and implement energy efficient devices in order to further the penetration of renewable energy in Namibia.

Installation of SPV will change electricity distribution as the traditional consumer could also become a producer of energy. Future planning will need to include the digitization of user’s points and network in order to successfully harness, protect and control the flow of energy to meet demand in a secure, reliable and stable grid. According to the spokesperson of Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME), Ten Hasheela there is no impact of rooftop solar toward the country electricity distribution, as these are predominately for own consumption.

If grown to a large proportion in terms of aggregate Megawatts of rooftop solar installed, these privately owned systems can help Namibia improve daytime peak demand which will in turn reduce electricity imports to a certain degree. Hasheela told the Villager, that the MME is fully supporting corporate companies that uses SPV.

“The Ministry of Mines and Energy together with Electricity Control Board developed the Net-metering Rules. These are set of guidelines permitting individual companies to install rooftop solar with an option to connect to the distribution grid. In addition, many of the photovoltaic companies today providing services are registered with the National Technical Committee on Solar Technology, and is through the Ministry of Mines and Energy Solar Revolving Scheme that many of these solar energy companies first got involved in the Namibia solar sector” Hasheela said.

She added that roughly MME is aware of about 45+ both public and private institutions with rooftop solar on their premises but the figure keep growing almost every month. It is a regulation that institutions who intend to put up rooftop solar register their intendant with the electricity distributor under whose area of jurisdiction they fall. Advantages for companies’ using solar energy are that electricity generation systems based on solar are usually associated with minimal maintenance cost. Solar is a clean source of energy which is friendlier and less degrading to the environment. The only problem with solar energy systems is that if operated without a storage, when the sunsets, they cease to produce power.