UNDP Namibia supports Concentrated Solar Power Project

The “Concentrated Solar Power Technology Transfer for Electricity Generation” (CSP TT NAM) has supported Namibia to develop its capacity in CSP technology, through a facilitation of commercial solar thermal plant, which is regarded one of the cleaner and more mature technologies through south-south and north-south transfer opportunities.

The project which ran from 2014 to 2016 was spear headed by the Ministry of Mines and Energy was co-funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), through the UNDP to the value of US$1.8 million.

In light of the rising electricity consumption and prices in Namibia and power deficit in South Africa, the country’s main supplier, CSP TT NAM’s main objective was to address the country’s dependency on one source of energy, through the promotion of a diversified energy mix.

Namibia has one of the best solar regimes in the world with an average high direct insolation of 2200kWh /m²/year with minimal cloud cover.  In recognition of this unique endowment, the Government supported by private sector has actively promoted the use of solar energy and its uptake has increased significantly as a result of Government efforts.  This has been almost exclusively for off-grid applications.

Concentrating solar power (CSP) is a commercially available solar energy technology that uses direct sunlight and mirrors to create high temperature steam to drive conventional steam turbines with or without storage.

Like most developing countries which are energy net importers, the likely increase in future energy costs or disruption in energy supply could jeopardize Namibia’s economic growth. These risks contrasted with the limited application of renewable energy and energy-efficient measures and technologies in the country, are particularly challenging local authorities (including the REDs) who are the largest single electricity consumers with the domestic/residential sector.

In Namibia, on average only 15% of rural communities and 70% of those living in urban areas, have access to a form energy supply.

Therefore the need to diversify energy provided the entry point for the CSP TT NAM project, which has also focused on developing the necessary technological framework and conditions for the successful transfer and deployment of CSP technology.

For example a financing framework for CSP projects would lead to the provision of loans to fund such initiatives by financing institutions, and the subsequent increase of CSP installations in the country.

Key Achievements

A Renewable Energy Policy Framework incorporating CSP has been developed, to facilitate future investments in electricity generation.

The local and international interest partner’s database was also established, and has contributed to enhanced knowledge of applicable CSP applications in Namibia.

Through numerous trainings and information sharing platforms, engineers, financiers and policy makers have been enabled to better understand the value in participating in the CSP market.

It is expected that operating CSP pre-commercial plant, should be generating solar in energy in Namibia, by 2021.

Measures to promote CSP projects can be expected to improve energy security, and also generate employment and serve as a cost-effective GHG emission reduction option.

The Sustainable Development Agenda

In 2015, the world agreed on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to guide efforts over the next fifteen years, to end poverty, to protect the planet, and to ensure prosperity and lasting peace for all.

Of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) goal seven aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. It further aims to ensure that by 2030, universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services and increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

The United Nations Partnership Assistance Framework (UNPAF) 2014-2017 of the Government of Namibia and UNDP/UN identify energy and environment for sustainable development as a key strategic point to support Namibia’s long-term development aspirations.

The ongoing Ministry of Environment and Tourism climate change program further buttresses the argument, to develop a national mitigation plan and support the development of technologies that reduce GHG emissions, including renewable energy technologies.

The Government of Namibia’s social obligation to electrify rural areas and the need to provide electricity for the rural poor who are dispersed over large parts of the country, making electricity grid extensions often not a viable option, hence leading to the development of off-grid platforms.

Globally, 85.3 per cent of the population had access to electricity in 2014, an increase of only 0.3 percentage points since 2012. That means that 1.06 billion people, predominantly rural dwellers, still function without electricity. Half of those people live in sub-Saharan Africa.

As we pledge to wage war on poverty, not only in Namibia, but throughout the SADC Region, (so that no one is left behind); UNDP Namibia remains committed to work with Government and partners to increase the share of renewable energy resources in the Namibian energy mix by developing the necessary technological framework, successful transfer and deployment of CSP technology reducing GHG emissions.

July 2017
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