Namibia to depend on power imports until 2030 – IPPR

Despite making headway in constructing new power generating infrastructure, Namibia's progress remains inadequate in meeting its energy needs and substituting imports, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has revealed.

 IPPR's Namibia Quarterly Economic Review says the country's efforts are expected to fall short of the desired targets, leading to a prolonged period of reliance on imports until the end of the decade.

 "While Namibia is making progress building new generating capacity, progress is not as fast as it needs to be and will not be sufficient to completely replace imports. This precarious situation is likely to last several years until the end of the decade," the report says.

This comes as Namibia has long been a net importer of electricity from the Southern African Power Pool and has struggled over the decades to build new domestic generating capacity and become more independent. 

"Despite greater renewable energy capacity, primarily REFIT IPP solar PV plants, in 2022 Namibia imported more than 70% of the power required as power supply from the key Ruacana hydroelectric power station dwindled.

This imported power was supplied mainly by South Africa’s Eskom and Zambia. However, both countries are suffering their own domestic power shortages which are unlikely to be resolved in the near future," reads the report.

IPPR review highlights that despite the string of new domestic generating capacity which has come on stream in recent years, 2022 saw Namibia more reliant than ever on electricity imports.

"Of the total supply of 4,097GWh into the system during the year, NamPower supplied 816GWh and domestic REFIT and other IPPs supplied a further 364GWh.

South Africa’s Eskom supplied 1,253GWh, Zambia’s ZESCO supplied 1,018GWh and Zimbabwe’s ZPC supplied 390GWh. A further 256GWh was purchased from the SAPP expensive short-term energy market," said the review.

As a result, overall imports accounted for 71.2% of total electricity supply making Namibia "acutely vulnerable to developments in the rest of the region". 

NamPower's generating capacity was limited for many years to Ruacana (commissioned in 1978, with a fourth turbine added in 2012), Van Eck (built between 1972 and 1979), and Anixas (commissioned in 2011).

Meanwhile, Omburu, located on a 42-hectare site near Omaruru, was commissioned on 29 March 2022, making it NamPower's first fully owned and operated renewable energy power station.

"It is expected to produce 63GWh of clean energy per year. As part of its Integrated Strategic Business Plan 2020-2025, NamPower is building the following additional generating capacity," said IPPR.

Some of the projects underway include the 40MW Rosh Pinah Wind Power Project which was designed to provide renewable energy outside the typical solar PV dispatch profile.

"It was to have a maximum export capacity of 40Mwe and a guaranteed lifetime of 25 years. KfW/BMZ completed its project due diligence in April 2022, but the wind resource at the Rosh Pinah site was lower than expected."

Furthermore, the N$1.2 billion Anixas II Power Station is set to provide backup power to stabilise the grid due to the intermittency of renewable energy sources.

According to IPPR, it will use Internal Combustion Reciprocating Engine technology and is expected to be completed in December 2023.

Meanwhile, the N$1.6 billion Otjikoto Biomass Power Station aims to use encroacher bush as fuel and provide dispatchable baseload generation.

"Fichtner GmbH have been appointed engineers and a grant funding application has been submitted to reduce tariffs. AFD is carrying out final due diligence and NamPower expects a Final Investment Decision in April 2023 with construction starting in Q2 2023," said the IPPR.

Similarly, NamPower has signed an exclusive 25-year PPA with CERIM Lüderitz Energy for the development of the N$300 million 20MW Khan Solar PV project and the N$1.4 billion 50MW Lüderitz Wind Project.

Construction commenced in April 2022 and the plant is expected to commence operation by July 2025.






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