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Namibia plans to reduce reliance on electricity imports

Minister of Mines and Energy, Obeth Kandjoze. (Photo by: Joseph Nekaya) NAMPA

The Minister of Mines and Energy, Obeth Kandjoze, says government is developing a National Integrated Resource Plan that will guarantee long-term power supply and also reduce over reliance on electricity imports.

In an exclusive interview with The Southern Times, Kandjoze said the ongoing import dependence constitutes a significant strategic risk.

“Namibia’s current electricity needs up to June 2016 were 608MW of which NamPower imports 60% of the country’s total electricity requirements from sources outside Namibia (Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa). This ongoing import dependence constitutes a significant strategic risk.”

He continued: “Therefore, the Ministry has developed a National Integrated Resource Plan (NIRP) that will identify the supply mix of resources to meet the near and long-term electric power needs in Namibia in a sustainable, efficient, safe and  reliable manner at  the  lowest reasonable cost.”

Avoiding electricity imports

Kandjoze said in the interim a number of new electricity generation projects have been initiated, including through the Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff (REFIT) programme, as well as by NamPower and the Regional Electricity Distributors.

He noted that Namibia has always been able to meet its electricity demand despite regional shortages, and it is foreseen that this will continue to be the case.

NIRP covers a 20-year development strategy for Namibia’s Electricity Supply Industry, spanning the period between 2016 and 2035. Read more…

“The principal objective of the NIRP is to identify the supply mix of resources to meet the near and long-term electric power needs in Namibia in a sustainable, efficient, safe and reliable manner at the lowest reasonable cost,” the minister explained.

He added: “It will serve as a national planning blue print that indicates the intent by the state to drive, select the correct technology for the country according to the vast energy resources available.”

Budget allocations

Kandjoze further revealed that Namibia has made budget allocations to drive the country’s power generation.

“This sector is highly capital intensive and the government alone cannot shoulder the burden. Renewable Energy has a definite role to play and this is clearly articulated in the NIRP,” he said.

“However, it is important to realise that power plants based on solar energy will only generate  electricity, even heat the water, only when the sun is above our horizon, i.e., during the day. When the sun has set, the solar energy systems do not generate electricity anymore,” he noted.

Therefore, Kandjoze said: “We would therefore need to invest in energy storage systems, which are extremely expensive, making it not commercially viable to embark on such a venture at this time.”

He further told The Southern Times, “the same would apply to wind power, which is generated only when the wind blows.

It is therefore necessary to have a certain minimum of power that is ‘always available’ and not dependent on a single day’s weather. Such power plants are large hydro, coal, gas or nuclear, power plants, which provide baseload power.”


Featured image source: 123rf

Babalwa Bungane
Babalwa Bungane is the content producer for ESI Africa - Clarion Events Africa. Babalwa has been writing for the publication for over five years. She also contributes to sister publications; Smart Energy International and Power Engineering International. Babalwa is a social media enthusiast.