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Namibia’s plans to deal with power shortage

20 April 2012 – Namibia’s state owned electricity supply utility NamPower has asked for a 10% reduction in electricity usage across the country lest it face blackouts. NamPower managing director Paulinus Shilamba says that the country faces an 80 MW power shortage this winter, and that this deficit will grow to 150 MW by the end of 2013.

That increase in the deficit will be due to the ending of supply of power from the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa). In addition growth in Namibia’s mining sector is expected to see the power deficit increase to 300 MW if no capacity is added. Like its neighbour South Africa, Shilamba says the power shortage in Namibia over the next three to four years will remain critical until 2016.
A lot of Namibia’s power supply problems are linked to South Africa’s as NamPower imports a significant amount of its power from South African utility Eskom.

NamPower has initiated a Short Term Critical Supply Project (STCS) which includes the rehabilitation of its 120 MW Van Eck power station to extend its life by five years, replacement of turbine runners at its Ruacana power station to extend its capacity by 15 MW to 347 MW, and the installation of new machines at its small diesel fired Paratus power station. The utility is investigating the purchase of emergency diesel generators to add 20 MW, with the option of increasing this to 70 MW should cross border supply agreements fail to materialise.

NamPower is renegotiating power purchase agreements (PPAs) with Eskom, Zambia’s Zesco, Zesa and Botswana’s BPC. In addition, new PPAs with independent power producers are being negotiated with a number of private companies regarding off-take from wind and solar projects.
NamPower is working on medium and long term projects to ensure sufficient power. These include a fourth unit at Ruacana, the building of a coal-fired power station in Erongo, the possible US$1.3 billion Baynes hydropower project in cooperation with Angola, and the Kudu gas project.

The 4th Ruacana unit will be officially inaugurated in June this year. The installed capacity of the 4th unit generator is 92 MW and it is this that brings the new combined installed capacity of the Ruacana hydropower station to 332 MW.

Another project, which is in the feasibility stage, is for the Erongo coal fired power station. NamPower has investigated a number of sites in the Erongo region as a suitable location for the power station. The outcome of the final scoping report indicated a preference for a location east of Arandis. The capacity considered as part of the first phase is about 300 MW, which can be upgraded in the future to 800 MW. The detailed studies are underway. The Environmental Socio Economic Impact Assessment study (ESEIA) is nearing completion. NamPower has also launched the prequalification of potential contractors for the construction of the power station.

The 800 MW Kudu project involves the implementation of a combined cycle gas turbine facility north of Oranjemund. Half of the power generated from the Kudu power station will be consumed in Namibia with the balance to be exported to regional markets. Considerable progress has been made regarding power export agreement term-sheet negotiations, which were concluded in February 2012 with a potential regional secondary off-taker.

Discussions are also underway on the upgrade of the transmission line between Gerus and Auas substations to 300 MW to accommodate greater regional cooperation.