NamPower considers agreements with independent power producersBy: CATHERINE SASMAN
CONSIDERING the electricity shortage in southern Africa, renewable energy is the only feasible alternative, says the general manager of commercial services of Erongo RED, Robert Kahimise.
He said the regional electricity distributor has demonstrated its support for renewable energy provision by having the first wind generator in southern Africa, which is stationed at Walvis Bay.
Erongo RED is also applying on a yearly basis to the Electricity Control Board (ECB) for an “in-feed tariff” which is 96 cents per kilowatt to customers for 2012/13.
“The general demand for renewable energy is increasing by the day and we are in the process of doing further feasibility studies to address technical and commercial challenges we have experienced so far,” said Kahimise.
Some farmers in the region have started to generate renewable energy for own use, and there is the possibility of these farms supplying surplus energy to Erongo RED or NamPower.
One such venture is the farm of Omaruru Beverages that sell sspring water drawn from the northern Erongo mountains near Omaruru.
Maximillian Herzog of Omaruru Beverages says the farm has installed the biggest PV (solar) energy plant in Namibia that peaks at 51 kilowatts to reduce its carbon footprint.
He said the plant would be able to sell power during weekends and lunchtime.
“We would be prepared to extend our power plant to 200 kVA [kilovolt ampere] if Erongo RED or NamPower would pay for in-feeding,” Herzog said.
He said the system is very efficient, and he believes wind and solar energy would be the solution to provide the additional 80 megawatt required by Namibia.
“We think that Namibia’s capacity for renewable energy is huge,” Herzog commented.
“The climate in Namibia’s central areas is predestined for solar energy while the coastal area would be ideal for wind turbine stations. As far as I remember wind turbine stations can provide up to one megawatt per station.”
The Minister of Mines and Energy, Isak Katali, said in Parliament last week that NamPower is negotiating with a number of independent power producers involved in wind, solar and thermal power generation.
Wind projects include the Diaz Wind Project [formerly known as Aeolus Power Generation Namibia Pty Ltd], Electrawind and Innowind.
The solar project is GreeNam,and the thermal one is Natural Energy Power Plant.
Diaz Wind will build a 40-megawatt wind plant at Lüderitz, offering an energy tariff of N$1,24 per kilowatt-hour.
NamPower is yet to evaluate the final energy tariff, but Katali said it is “comfortable” with the price offer. However, NamPower was not willing to accept the proposed risks Diaz sought to impose on it under the draft PPA.
Diaz Wind then approached the Ministry of Mines and Energy for possible government support to help mitigate these risks.
Electrawind, a 60-megawatt farm at Walvis Bay, informed NamPower in June last year that the power outputs were disappointing.
It said it will explore the possibility of a smaller wind plant at Lüderitz and a larger one at Oranjemund with coordinated operation with the Kudu gas project. It has, however, not yet confirmed whether it will abandon the Walvis Bay site.
Innowind, also a 60-megawatt plant near Walvis Bay, has approved an energy tariff of N$1,14 per kilowatt-hour, but according to Katali is not willing to accept a number of risks. NamPower is willing to pay the fee, but is also not willing to stand for the risks.
GreeNam plans to set up three 10-megawatt solar projects at different sites around Namibia, one of which will be at Keetmanshoop.
It proposed a tariff fee of N$2,65 per kilowatt-hour, which NamPower is still evaluating. NamPower, however, is not willing to accept GreeNam’s risks.
The Natura thermal energy project plans to set up a 120-megawatt heavy fuel plant at Arandis.
Natura has discussed transmission connection with NamPower, but has not initiated NamPower’s formal connection application process.
It has, however, also asked that NamPower carries its risks, which Katali said is an “unacceptable risk allocation”.
NamPower has thus suspended negotiations with Natura pending further discussions.