9 November 2009 – NamPower announced last week that the Ruacana hydro power plant is now scheduled to install a fourth unit in hopes of ensuring the availability of the country’s electricity supply.
Ruacana Hydro Power Station was constructed in the 1970s with three units installed to generate 240 megawatts. With the increase in electricity demand and the high shortages experienced throughout the SADC region, the power utility has deemed it necessary to undertake this N$750-million project for the installation of a fourth unit. This plant is responsible for generating 63 percent of the country’s capacity, contributing 240 megawatts to the country’s total of 384-megawatt generation capacity.
NamPower will be coupled with the German Development Bank to finance approximately half of the project’s cost and the remainder deficit will be sourced from either debt financing or the power utility’s own resources.
Once the fourth unit is installed the generating capacity will increase to 340 megawatts and to some extent reduce Namibia’s current dependency on South Africa’s power utility, Eskom. In fact, the Minister of Mines and Energy, Erkki Nghimtina, states that the country’s electricity demand has increased over the past few years to a level of approximately 451 megawatts. With current demand levels leaving Namibia with an electricity deficit, the country looks to alternate solutions for generation and power sharing. Investigations are underway in conjunction with neighboring Angola to assess the feasibility of building a transmission line to link the two countries’ grids along their border areas.
For the time being, Namibia remains an insignificant player in power generation in the SADC region and falls amidst one of the few countries that make up 4.4 percent of power generators in the region. However, NamPower hopes to change this through initiatives towards an electrified future.