14 June 2013 – NamPower says that results of a pre-feasibility study on the use of biomass for power generation in the country are promising and it has given the go-ahead to continue with a full-scale feasibility study while also investigating the feasibility of a hybrid biomass concentrated solar power (CSP) plant.
The Namibia Economist reports that the study by NamPower has been two years in the undertaking. It reports that when NamPower went to tender for the study in 2011, Robert Schultz from the Desert Research Foundation, an organisation that runs a 250 kW biomass power plant near Outjo, said there is capacity to run as many as 240 decentralised distribution-embedded biomass power plants across Namibia.
"Standing biomass resources are estimated at over 260 million tonnes,” he said. “Van Eck probably needs about 100,000 tonnes of biomass fuel a year if running for three months per year and if you divide the available resources it gives you about 2,600 years of available fuel. This is of course a very rudimentary estimate but does serve to put the available resources into perspective."
Schultz said the advantages of having biomass energy power plants is that it creates a form of energy development outside major towns which, in turn, creates economic opportunities in other areas. "Reducing bush encroachment improves agricultural production. Coupled with decentralised power generation, you actually create more employment opportunities for every kilowatt-hour generated."
He said biomass power plants are also important as only 30% of the population has access to electricity. "For some biomass technologies you can easily consider off-grid power supply. For example, the EU-funded Tsumkwe Energy project is a 200 kW solar/diesel off-grid power plant providing electricity supply to about 200 to 300 households. In this case, the diesel generator can easily be substituted by a biomass energy technology."