MPUNGU VLEI - Agribusdev will soon start using solar power at three of its irrigation projects, namely Sikondo, Etunda and Shadikongoro green schemes in order to cut costs on the use of electricity.
“The solar project is not delayed, it’s just that this process had to go through the tender procedures which we have now concluded. So far, three tenders have been awarded, so the three projects which are Sikondo, Etunda and Shadikongoro will be getting solar installed there,” said Agribusdev boss Petrus Uugwanga.
He was responding to why Agribusdev was taking too long to install solar at its green schemes as suggested by then agriculture minister John Mutorwa in June 2016. Last week, Nored disconnected power supplies to Agribusdev’s Ndonga Linena and Uvhungu-Vhungu green schemes in Kavango East and at Sikondo green scheme in Kavango West due to electricity non-payments.
With the solar installation, Agribusdev hopes to cut down on the skyrocketing power cost and keep the farms under production.
“It’s part of our agenda to mitigate the power cost,” the MD said.
“Apart from that, we are also installing what we call the variable speed drive. We have so far installed one at Etunda in Omusati Region and it has reasonably reduced the cost,” Uugwanga added.
The installation of variable speed drive is to regulate the speed of the motors at the pumps to run proportionally to the volume of water required for irrigation.
“For instance if a farm is a 1000 hectares and you are only irrigating 200 hectares, the pump will never hit the maximum speed. It will control it to the level where it can only deliver the power and water equivalent to that. But if you don’t have it, it does not sense or vary, it just go up and Nored will charge you for maximum demand,” he explained.
“They just look at your highest consumption per month and now to avoid maximum demand to be at high level, you need to have a system that can control the starting of the pumps,” he said.
“The installation will start soon at the three sites that we have adjudicated, the cost will differ at each project because this projects have different sizes and this will not mean that the need for power from Nored would be eliminated but would rather reduce. The Nored power would still be needed, mind you, we also irrigate during the night,” he noted.