Renewable energy takes centre stage

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WINDHOEK – Namibia is at the crossroads in terms of the challenges it faces in the energy sector, with the Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab warning about a looming power crisis.

“It is no exaggeration that as a country we are faced with a threatening power crisis,” he told fellow lawmakers during a two-day energy conference in the National Assembly chambers this week. “The demand for electricity by far outstrips supply, as a result of import dependency, as well as our limited local and regional electricity generation capacity,” he said at the conference that ended yesterday. Gurirab said compounding this uncertainty is global warming and an increasing awareness of the damage caused by fossil fuels, which puts even more pressure on the country. “Currently, we rely on our neighbouring countries to make up the shortfalls. In addition to projects such as Kudu gas power and the envisaged construction of the Arandis Power Station, as a country, we ought to think more of other ways of generating electricity, including nuclear power,” he said. Hundreds of international and local experts on renewable energy attended the conference to share information, knowledge and experiences on opportunities available in the renewable energy sector.

Minister of Mines and Energy Isak Katali said Namibia is a vast country with many contrasts and covers an area of about 824 268 square kilometres. “Namibia is sparsely populated, with only one third of its 2.26 million inhabitants living in urban centres. This as you can imagine makes provision of services, such as electricity, much more challenging,” he said. Katali said total electricity consumption was 3.91 GWh in 2010 of which about 39 percent was imported from South Africa and 16 percent from Zimbabwe. According to him of the 393MW of in-country generating capacity, almost 36.6 percent is fossil fuel based. He said the average annual growth in electricity demand is estimated at 3 percent per annum over the next 30 years.

Moreover, according to him a government commissioned study indicated that Namibia faces a capacity deficit in its generation capacity from 2015 onward due to the current growth forecast of its electricity demands. Katali said Namibia is blessed with abundant renewable energy resources and that is where investment should be directed. “Namibia has oil, but why are we not extracting it to lessen the burden of high petroleum product prices? Why is electricity so expensive in Namibia? Namibia has a lot of Uranium, why can’t it invest in nuclear energy,” he asked conference participants among them Namibian parliamentarians. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Economics, Natural Resources and Public Administration organised the conference sponsored by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.


By Kuzeeko Tjitemisa