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Namibia: Energy Status Quo must change

The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Institute (REEEI) is to embark on research on energy sources that could be developed and implemented.

When the viable sources of energy have been identified, they will be tabled to the authorities for them to be promoted for investment purposes.

The institute was established last year, among others, to conduct research on renewable energy resources and energy efficiency, promote energy generation capacity from renewable energy resources, implement and assess projects on renewable energy resources and their potential, as well as to attract foreign and local investors.

Although Namibia has a tremendous supply of potential solar energy, because of its high levels of solar radiation, hydropower potential as well as wind energy, these sources of energy remain untapped.

According to the institute's coordinator, Martin Heita, the country has 12 months of sunshine, its coastal areas are among the best wind sites in the world and it also has tidal waves of 6 to 12 meters per second, which can be used to turn turbines for electricity.

He feels that the country has not done enough to attract investment to develop these energy sources into electricity, which the country sorely needs to stop its dependence on its neighbours.

The research areas that have been identified include solar, wind, waste, biomass, biogas, tidal waves, bio-diesel, bio-ethanol and also the technologies for these sources of energy.

For instance, Heita said the Kupferfield landfill site has about 160 000 tones of waste that "can be turned into gold by building a small power station".

In addition to this, wind, biomass, solar and municipal waste can be utilized and turned into gas and electricity.

"Namibia relies so much on conventional energy in which it has invested a lot of money and has done well compared to other countries," said he, but adding that the status quo could not continue.

To meet the goals set in the Vision 2030 document, Heita said, the energy sources should be developed in order for them to contribute to Namibia's economic development.

While the focus of the institute will be research as from next year, its immediate activities are to embark on awareness campaigns to encourage people to use solar technologies such as solar water heaters to bring down electricity consumption.

The institute has identified solar home systems, energy saving appliances, solar cookers, solar heating, efficient wood stoves, charcoal production, clay stoves production, building material and building designs as principal areas for energy efficiency and conservation.

REEEI was established through a memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Mines and Energy and the Polytechnic of Namibia in March 2005. The institute, launched in June this year, was given a capital injection of N$1 million for three years.

But Heita said the institute would also start soliciting funds from various donor agencies and other corporate companies for REEEI to grow.

Other objectives of the institute include promoting sustainable development for renewable energy resources in co-existence with the environment, promoting energy efficiency and energy conservation measures in accordance with the Strategic Action Plan for Renewable Energy and also to promote and encourage coordination amongst other research institutions in the field of renewable energy resources and energy efficiency.

Additional information:
News date: 11/09/2006

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