WINDHOEK – The 37MW Hardap Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Plant, which was commissioned outside Mariental last Thursday, is the biggest PV plant in Namibia and one of the most productive, if not the most productive in the world, thanks to its technology and location, which has extremely high irradiation levels. This is according to Juan Laso, Executive president of Alten Africa, the Independent Power Producer at the helm of the Alten Energy Consortium, which is required to secure project financing and construct the power plant.
The Alten Energy Consortium is comprised of the lead developer Alten RE Developments Africa (51 percent) and a number of Namibian companies, namely Mangrove (12 percent), Talyeni Investment (six percent), First Place Investment (12 percent) and NamPower (19 percent). Mangrove, Talyeni Investment and First Place Investment are companies owned by previously disadvantaged Namibians, and are in fact fully owned by women.
“Despite the start-up difficulties, as of today, the plant has produced 75GWh of clean, sustainable electricity, free of greenhouse gas emissions. Let me give you a couple of figures. On 18th December, the plant produced 407.4 MWh, in other words, over 1 1 equivalent hours at full capacity, 37MW. And the plant can do more. I am sure that the solid work that S&W is doing in perfecting the operating & maintenance will continue, and that together with the work of our technical teams at Alten Africa and NamPower, we can improve these registers in the near future and keep this plant as one of the most productive in the world,” said Laso at the commissioning of the plant.
In a speech delivered on his behalf by his Deputy Minister of Mines and Enregy Kornelia Shilunga, minister Tom Alweendo explained that following the mandate from the National Project Steering Committee on renewable energy for a renewable energy project to be implemented through a competitive tender process, the Hardap Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Power Project was conceived. This project entailed the procurement of an Independent Power Producer (IPP) to develop a Solar PV power plant with a maximum export capacity of 37MW on a Build-Own-Operate basis at a site near Mariental.
After completing the development activities for the project, a tender was issued to the market and 13 tenders were received. After rigorous evaluation of the different tender submissions, the contract for the Hardap PV Project was awarded to Alten Energy Consortium as the project company. As part of the tender, Alten Energy Consortium was required to secure project financing and construct the power plant.
In order to secure its shareholding, NamPower contributed the project site, conducted the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and geotechnical and topographical studies for the site, procured the site and constructed the required transmission connection facilities to evacuate the power into the Namibian grid.
“Investing in renewable energy technologies is inevitably the future for the world, and indeed our country, especially, given the fact that Namibia is blessed with abundant solar resources. Furthermore, we are committed to reducing our dependency on imports and the use of fossil fuels, alike. The Ministry of Mines and Energy strives to ensure security of supply and access to affordable electricity through effective and economic use of locally available resources, with the vision to minimise electricity imports,” said Alweendo.
Namibia imported more than 70 percent of its annual electricity requirements last year. According to Alweendo, this was literally the highest import figure recorded since independence, mainly due to the drought experienced in the region, which affected generation at the Ruacana Power Station as well as the availability of cheap energy on the Day-Ahead Market.
“Between 1990 and 2009, the average annual imports stood at 48 percent and between 2010 and 2017, it was 38 percent, an indication that Namibia’s power is in need of local strengthening to alleviate this dependency on external sources,” said Alweendo.
He continued that the Hardap Solar PV Power Plant attests to government’s effort in levelling the playing field and creating investment and competitive opportunities for Independent Power Producers (IPPs), to contribute to Namibia’s power supply, adding that these initiatives do not only target development spending in the country but play a vital role in the energy sector.