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Namibia: Looking to the Wind

Namibia’s wind regime has finally generated some serious interest, leading to developers from the Netherlands submitting a proposal for consideration to the country’s power utility, NamPower.
Soon after a feasibility study was conducted on the proposed site in the vicinity of Lüderitz, after which Nampower unsuccessfully applied for a licence to develop a pilot 3 mW wind generation plant, there has not been much interest in the wind regime, until recently. The developers, who plan to generate over 90 mW from three different sites, namely, Lüderitz, Oranjemund and Walvis Bay, have raised 85 percent of the required Euros 100 million.

Electricity Control Board (ECB) Chief Executive Officer, Siseho Simasiku, told New Era on Tuesday that part of the money would be in the form of a grant from the Dutch Government, another part from carbon trading while the rest will be sourced from financing institutions.

Although no interest in the wind regime was shown for a long time, Simasiku is of the view that once the project is up and running other developers may want to come on board.

Namibia is one of the countries in Africa with the best wind regimes. “We are looking forward to a bright future as far as energy is concerned,” he said, dispelling concerns that there might be future blackouts due to the shortage of own-generated power.

The Ministry of Mines and Energy’s Nody Ipangelwa also said although many investors have visited the country and promised to come back, there has not been much movement towards investing in the wind regime. He said the ministry was also looking for 100 percent funding from donors but that it was not forthcoming.

Simasiku said he had asked the ECB directors to assure potential developers that the electricity regulator would grant them a generation licence once they had agreed that Nampower would take power from them.

Most North African countries have developed wind parks from which they generate electricity but in Africa, south of the Sahara, South Africa is the first country to have done so. South Africa’s power utility Escom has started a pilot project in the Cape.

Stakeholders are also toying with the idea that South Africa and Namibia’s two west coastlines could be connected to form a network. “If we happen to create a favourable situation, South Africa can supply to Namibia and Namibia to its South African counterparts in case of shortfalls,” he said.

The best wind areas in the country are restricted to the coast, which have wind speeds of 12m per second, with the other areas being the mountainous areas of Tsumeb and Otavi.

“In the rest of the country, there is no wind,” added Simasiku. Electricity generated from wind is more expensive than Namibia’s current electricity generation costs because wind technology is fairly new and for it to become cheaper, it has to be produced en masse or distributed widely. Many countries are still not using wind and its technology is specialised, said the ECB boss.

At present, Namibian consumers buy their electricity for 18 c/kWh while that from wind would be sold at 35 c/kWh. Simasiku said this was because Ruacana power station has been paid off and coal fired electricity from South Africa is also cheap. But due to lack of security of supply at present, Simasiku said, electricity prices will skyrocket to an extent that power from wind will become cheaper and competitive in five years’ time.

Yet, a paper compiled by GTZ on wind energy projects in Morocco and Namibia says wind energy has become one of the most economical renewable technologies because wind turbines employ proven and tested technology and provide a secure and sustainable energy supply.

The paper said although many countries have considerable wind resources, which are still untapped, wind energy has no green gas emissions, it can make a con- tribution to regional electricity supply and to power supply diversifi-cation, it is flexible with regard to increasing energy demand and can make use of local resources in terms of labour, capital and materials.

Additional information:
News date: 28/09/2006

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