Nampower Bails Out Eskom but SA Warns of Further Power Cuts

Despite NamPower providing up to 200 MW of electricity to South Africa, that country’s power utility Eskom this week warned that its power grid continued to be constrained and cautioned that further power cuts were possible.

NamPower this week confirmed that it was supplying both Eskom and the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) with much needed electricity, which is a reversal from the historic scenario where Namibia imported about 60 percent of its total power, which would escalate to 80 percent during the dry season.

NamPower spokesperson Monica Nashandi this week said NamPower was providing power to Namibia’s neighbours as part of an annual surplus sales agreement it has in place with both Eskom and BPC.

“The capacity to assist Eskom and BPC was as a direct result of surplus energy being available at the time due to the flagship power generation plant, the Ruacana hydropower station, generating at full capacity (330 MW). This year, g inflows (of up to 400 cubic metressecond) due to good rains in the catchment area of the Kunene River Basin made this possible. This would not have been possible during the dry season (typically between mid-May and November each year). Inflows have since decreased, which means that the generation capacity has decreased with the power station currently generating from 06h00 to 22h00 for domestic purposes only,” said Nashandi in a statement released on Wednesday afternoon.

However, in an email from Eskom’s media desk the SA power utility said: “The system remains extremely constrained but stable. Should anything unexpected happen, we may need to go into load shedding.”

Eskom implemented stage one load shedding on January 9, due to high electricity demand and the unavailability of some of its generating units. Stage one allows for up to 1 000 MW of South Africa’s electricity load to be shed, stage two for up to 2000 MW, and stage three for up to 4000 MW.

Eskom’s chief executive officer, Tshediso Matona, recently reiterated that the country’s power supply would remain severely constrained in the coming months while Eskom dealt with its maintenance backlog. He noted that maintenance had been neglected in recent years and at times was deferred to keep the lights on in South Africa.

During February, South Africa will lose an additional 900 MW when its Koeberg nuclear power station units are scheduled to undergo maintenance.

Meanwhile, Nashandi explained that apart from the fact that NamPower could assist the two utilities due to surplus power being available, “it is important to note that as a participating Southern African power utility, NamPower should act in solidarity with its neighbouring utilities just as they would, in the interests of economic development in the SADC region under the ambit of the SAPP energy trading platform.”

The NamPower spokesperson said Namibia is fortunate that NamPower has consistently been able to meet the domestic electricity needs of all sectors of the economy without load shedding, at a cost that has continued to foster overall economic growth.

“During the next four to five years, no serious power supply disruptions are envisaged as NamPower has had the foresight to put adequate measures in place, through its short-term critical supply initiatives (1 to 5 years), to mitigate potential shortages.”

The short-term critical supply initiatives include demand side management (DSM), the refurbishment of the Van Eck power station, runners replacement at Ruacana, negotiation of power purchase agreements (PPAs) with regional utilities and independent power producers (IPPs) and the development of a 250-MW power plant.

The 250-MW power plant will be a joint development with the private sector and will fill the supply gap prior to the commissioning of the Kudu gas power station.

NamPower’s planned medium to longer-term projects include the development of the Kudu gas power station and the Baynes hydropower plant.

Source : New Era