HomeIndustry SectorsGenerationNamibia's energy dilemma

Namibia’s energy dilemma

The outlet at Ruacana
“’ one of Namibia’s
existing hydropower
Windhoek, Namibia — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 25 January 2012 – The envisioned coal-fired power station at Arandis in Namibia will present a unique case where the social and environmental impact of such a project on a small town of about 6,000 people will have to be weighed against the government’s obligation to guarantee a critical basic need of over two million Namibians.

“The Namibian” reports that this was the opinion at a public meeting at Arandis during which the findings of draft scoping report for an 800MW coal-fired power station were presented.

The report will be submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism’s Department of Environmental Affairs for approval, so that the Social and Environmental Impact Assessment process can continue.

Namibia’s bulk power utility hopes its new power station will start producing electricity by 2015, even if it is at an initial capacity of 150MW to 300MW. At least this, combined with the Ruacana, Van Eck and Anixas power plants, could make up for Namibia’s growing peak energy demand of over 500MW.

Electricity Control Board (ECB) CEO Siseho Simasiku said during last year’s electricity supply stakeholders’ forum in Walvis Bay that Namibia’s energy issue has become a critical national security matter, which was bigger than socio-economic concerns.

Provision of electricity from neighbouring countries is being scaled down drastically because there is a general shortage of power supply in the southern African region as a whole. Added to this is Namibia’s increasing domestic and industrial appetite for electricity.

The latest addition to the national power grid was the US$44 million, 22.5MW Anixas’ diesel power station at Walvis Bay, commissioned last year “’ the first bulk electricity generator to be inaugurated since the Ruacana hydropower station in 1978. Anixas is a crucial link in the electricity grid, but will not be Namibia’s saviour when it comes to bulk supply.

Nampower’s current installed generation capacity is 415.5MW, with a peak demand of 511MW recorded in June last year, which excludes the 96MW requirement of the Skorpion Zinc mine in the south.

In addition, it is estimated that the growth in energy demand for this year will be 4.4 per cent with a corresponding growth in demand requirement of 4.6 per cent, according to a Nampower background information document.

The shortfall to date was supplemented through energy imports over Namibia’s interconnected transmission network with the Southern African Power Pool countries. During some periods the energy imports were as high as 80% of energy requirements.

This reliance on imported energy poses a big risk for Namibia though, according to “The Naibian,” as the region not only experiences power shortages but the transmission networks in neighbouring countries are congested. Projects in the region are suffering from delays and in some cases are not being implemented at all.

Namibia’s energy white paper proposes objectives for more secure and reliable energy. It highlights the belief that Namibia should aim to supply all of its demand and at least 75% of its energy requirements from its own installed generation capacity.

The proposed coal power station is one of the potential solutions to the current situation.