New Era Newspaper

New Era Epaper
Icon Collap
Home / Southern Africa’s power crisis escalates…renewable energy plants to bolster Namibia’s security of supply

Southern Africa’s power crisis escalates…renewable energy plants to bolster Namibia’s security of supply

2023-01-16  Edgar Brandt

Southern Africa’s power crisis escalates…renewable energy plants to bolster Namibia’s security of supply

The Namibia Power Corporation (NamPower) plans to develop six renewable energy- generation projects to keep the lights on in the country. Many of these projects are at an advanced stage, and have been developed to strengthen and ensure Namibia’s security of electricity supply. These projects are to be funded from NamPower’s own balance-sheet. 

The introduction of the renewable generation projects significantly changes NamPower’s energy mix from traditional sources of energy, and are expected to eventually decrease Namibia’s dependence on energy imports from outside the country. These developments have become increasingly significant, as many of Namibia’s neighbours and traditional power suppliers are facing their own generation deficiencies. This is as southern African economic activity accelerates, and this requires more power. Howeve,r regional electricity generation efforts remain relatively stagnant. 


Renewable energy 

Responding to questions from New Era, NamPower spokesperson Irene !Hoaes explained that two of the six ventures - the Khan 20MW Solar PV IPP project and the 50MW IPP Wind project - have been developed as Independent Power Producer (IPP) projects. This means NamPower will only buy the energy from the power producer. 

For the Khan project, construction activities already commenced in March 2022. Thus far, basic engineering and designs have been completed, and detailed engineering is in progress. The Commercial Operation Date (COD) of the power plant is expected to be in the second quarter of 2024. 

For the 50MW IPP Wind Project, the procurement process has been completed and the bid has been awarded to the successful bidder, namely a joint venture between China Energy International Group and Riminii Investment. This project is expected to achieve commercial operation at the end of 2025. 

The four remaining projects will be owned and operated by NamPower, and funded from its own balance-sheet. These projects are the

Omburu 20MW Solar PV Project, which power plant was successfully completed in March 2022, and is currently under commercial operation.

70MW Solar PV Project: The project completion is planned for 2025. This project replaces the 40 MW Rosh Pinah Wind Project, which was discontinued because the wind resource at the Rosh Pinah site is lower than anticipated, thus making the project not commercially viable. 

40MW NamPower Biomass Power Project: The final investment decision is expected to be taken by April 2023, following completion of the procurement of a contractor for the construction of the power station, as well as procurement of fuel suppliers for the supply of encroacher bush biomass wood chips. Construction is expected to commence by the third quarter of 2023, and commercial operation is expected by the end of 2025. 

50MW NamPower Anixas II, Firm Power Project: Procurement and construction of the power station was successfully concluded, and the contract was signed in March 2022. The basic engineering and designs have been concluded, and the main equipment ordered. Detailed engineering is now in progress, whereafter construction-related activities will commence on site. These activities will continue throughout 2022 and 2023, where the completion of the power station is expected by the second quarter of 2024.

!Hoaes added that several transmission projects, approved as part of NamPower’s Corporate Strategy and Business Plan, will be built in the next five years to strengthen the Namibian grid, and to dispatch the power generated from the six new generation projects to customers. 


Load shedding neighbours

“In the event of a shortfall, NamPower will have to source power from the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) to meet the country’s energy demand. The SAPP has short-term trading platforms (Month Ahead, Week Ahead, Day Ahead and Intra Day), and NamPower will continue to be an active member on all the platforms to ensure power demand is always met in the short run,” she observed. 

When load shedding is experienced in neighbouring countries which supply power to Namibia, NamPower’s supply is curtailed, as any other customer depending on the stage level. Namibia’s three main power importers are all experiencing regular load shedding, which is wreaking havoc on businesses and individuals alike. 

Said !Hoaes: “Such interruptions will be in accordance with the Power Purchase Agreement provisions signed between the parties, and in accordance with the agreements regulating the SAPP utility members. When Namibia/NamPower is affected by load shedding, the required shortfall is supplied through increasing supply from existing local dispatchable plants, and sourcing supply from the SAPP market”. 


Supply concerns

NamPower has electricity supply contracts with three countries, namely Zambia (180MW), Zimbabwe (80MW) and South Africa (100MW). These are uninterrupted supplies subject to agreed measures stipulated in the respective Power Purchase Agreements, in view of ensuring security of supply to the country that today still imports just over 70% of its electricity demand. 

In addition, NamPower can source supply from its local plants such as Van Eck, Anixas, Ruacana as well as from NamPower-owned renewable plants such as Omburu and IPP plants.  

As part of NamPower’s Corporate Strategy and Business Plan and in line with the National Integrated Resource Plan (NIRP), the energy ministry approved the development of 220 MW of generation capacity, of which 150 MW has been allocated to NamPower. 


Alternative sources

As Namibia awaits the full benefits of renewable energy and IPP options, such as green hydrogen, wind and solar, the Kudu Gas to Power project remains a viable solution on the table. 

“We anticipate that the project will be formally sanctioned in mid-2024, at which point a final investment decision would have been taken. Construction will follow shortly and achieve commercial operations by late 2026,” said Klaus Endresen, general manager of BW Kudu, a subsidiary of BW Energy. 

According to Endresen, a number of activities will need to be undertaken to support the Kudu Gas investment decision. Key amongst these include finalising power purchase agreements with customers, finalising the location of the power plant, securing environmental approvals for the entire development, as well as finalising the engineering design and costs for the full project layout. 

On his part, Presidential Economic Advisor and Namibia’s Green Hydrogen Commissioner James Mnyupe has stated that green hydrogen has positioned Namibia as the destination of choice for green energy project developers and financiers alike. Mnyupe, who is scheduled to participate at the Invest in African Energy New Year Reception in London on 26 January, is adamant that leveraging Namibia’s abundant renewable energy resources and strategic position is a viable alternative to supply southern Africa that is in dire need of reliable energy. 


2023-01-16  Edgar Brandt

Share on social media