Darkness Looms for Namibia

NAMIBIA is going to have shortage of up to 750 MegaWatts in electricity within the next 15 months when regional power purchase agreements end, managing director of NamPower Paulinus Shilamba revealed yesterday.

Shilamba revealed this information during a courtesy meeting with Prime Minister Hage Geingob at his offices in Windhoek.

The termination comes from the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa – 150 MW), the Electricity Supply Commission (Eskom – 200 MW supplement and 300MW off-peak), and Aggreko of Mozambique (115 MW).

“Namibia will continue to experience power supply deficits and keeping the lights on will remain challenging until the commissioning of Kudu in 2018,” Shilamba said, adding that the serious power supply deficit can be addressed through the Short Term Circuit Supply (STCS) programme.

Shilamba also said that during the next four to five years, NamPower will require government support to enable the company to maintain power supply and keep electricity rates at affordable levels.

The Namibian yesterday reported that Electricity Control Board had approved a 13,22% bulk electricity tariff increase for NamPower with effect from 1 July this year.

“There is a huge increase in the demand for electricity. Currently, the country imports 60% of its energy and during dry seasons, it imports up to 80%,” said Shilamba.

He attributed the increase in demand to new mines and economic development projects among other factors.

“The economy is growing and this means more energy to keep up the supply,” he said.

Outlining several challenges, Shilamba said the company faces regional transmission congestions and has to keep maintaining the aging power supply infrastructure.

Additionally, the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) demand government guarantees and cannot be accommodated without the guarantees.

“Energy supply from Eskom is continuously being interrupted and in fact it has been disconnected two times,” said Shilamba.

According to Shilamba, a new 250 megawatts plant will be commissioned at Walvis Bay by 2016 to deal with the power crisis and serious power supply deficit that are expected.

“The tenders for the procurement of the strategic equity partner and project developer is currently in the market,” Shilamba stated.

The plant project, Shilamba further said, will be developed through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) in which NamPower will have up to 30% equity.

He added that analysis found that the Walvis Bay plant would be a more cost effective option in comparison with the short term option mainly due to its long term benefits post Kudu.

“Leasing of emergency diesels has been one of the ways to ensure security of supply for Namibia,” he explained.

Geingob expressed gratitude to the company for thinking ahead and coming up with initiatives of how to manage these looming energy crises.

“I am very impressed that you have planned ahead because I have had sleepless nights but now I have nothing to fear,” Geingob said, assuring the company that they have the government’s full support.

Source : The Namibian