By Southern Times writer
Namibian Minister of Mines and Energy Obeth Kandjoze says his country is developing a National Integrated Resource Plan that will cement a long term power supply for that country and also reduce over reliance on imports for power which is key for economic development.
“Namibia’s current electricity needs up to June 2016 was 608 MW of which NamPower imports 60% of the country’s total electricity requirements from sources outside Namibia (Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa). This ongoing import dependence constitutes a significant strategic risk.
Therefore, the Ministry has developed a National Integrated Resource Plan (NIRP) that will identify the supply mix of resources to meet the near and long-term electric power needs in Namibia in a sustainable, efficient, safe and reliable manner at the lowest reasonable cost,” Kandjoze told The Southern Times in an interview this week.
He also added that in the interim a number of new electricity generation projects have been initiated, including through the Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff (REFIT) programme, as well as by NamPower and the Regional Electricity Distributors (REDs).
“In the meantime, Namibia has always been able to meet its electricity demand despite regional shortages, and it is foreseen that this will continue to be the case.
The National Integrated Resource Plan (as indicated above) is the electricity sector planning tool covering a 20-year development strategy for Namibia’s Electricity Supply Industry, spanning the period between 2016 and 2035.
The principal objective of the NIRP is to identify the supply mix of resources to meet the near and long-term electric power needs in Namibia in a sustainable, efficient, safe and reliable manner at the lowest reasonable cost.
It will serve as a national planning blue print that indicates the intent by the state to drive , select the correct technology for the country according to the vast energy resources available,” he said.
Kandjoze added that Namibia has made budgetary allocations to drive the country’s power generation “This sector is highly capital intensive and the Government alone cannot shoulder the burden.
Renewable Energy has a definite role to play and this is clearly articulated in the NIRP.
However, it is important to realize that power plants based on solar energy will only generate electricity, even heat the water, only when the sun is above our horizon, i.e., during the day. When the sun has set, the solar energy systems do not generate electricity anymore,” he said.
He also told The Southern Times that, “We would therefore need to invest in energy storage systems, which are extremely expensive, making it not commercially viable to embark on such a venture at this time.
The same would apply to wind power, which is generated only when the wind blows.
It is therefore necessary to have a certain minimum of power that is “always available” and not dependent on a single day’s weather. Such power plants are large hydro, coal, gas or nuclear, power plants, which provide baseload power.
The technical feasibility of a 100% renewable energy fed electricity grid is yet to be proven worldwide.
It has not yet been done for an electricity grid that is not connected to other baseload type of power plants.”
According to Kandjoze Namibia also needs to tap into opportunities presented by private investors to deal the challenge of power shortages as financing is not a prerogative of the state. This he says needs the Government to conjure up Public-Private Partnerships.
“We must realize that the Government of Namibia cannot shoulder the immense investment requirements in the country’s energy sector alone.
We need new money to invigorate the sector, to initiate those strategic energy projects that will enable our people to prosper. We keenly welcome energy sector investments.
With this in mind, the Ministry is the process to finalize an Independent Power Producer (IPP) and Market Framework Policy.
The framework is crucial for attracting investment in generation and
Transmission power projects driven by lPPs, Utilities and Transmission System Operators.
The framework does not only speak to how lPPs operate in the energy sector, but also contributes towards addressing the country’s security of supply,” he said.