Powering the Vision 2030 Vehicle

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By Professor Monish Gunawardana UNIVERSITY OF MANAGEMENT, WINDHOEK To raise the living standards of our people and develop Namibia as a very wealthy nation, we keep our hope on Vision 2030. This vision is the vehicle that takes us to prosperity. However, this vehicle will not move without fuel. Therefore, let us discuss the powering of our V2030 Vehicle. Vision Demands More Power When our vision begins to bear fruit, the national GDP growth will rise to 7 percent by 2010. The annual energy consumption (electricity, diesel, petrol and coal) will increase around 3 percent annually. Moreover, our people will demand more energy. The current national electricity demand is around 450 MW (Megawatts). But, by 2010, it will increase to 500 MW. Also, by 2015 it will be 600 MW. When the economy begins to thrive, people will buy more electric appliances and motor vehicles. Our factories, offices, hotels, and houses will demand more electricity and fossil fuel (petroleum, diesel and other petroleum-based products). Limited Power Until 2010 Nampower, the sole electricity supplier in Namibia, generates around 200 MW through Rucana hydropower plant, Van Eck and Paratus thermal plants. The unfavorable weather, accelerating coal and fuel prices will limit their power supply. Nampower’s current power generation capacity is 45 percent of the prevailing national demand. The proposed Kudu Gas plant (800MW), Zambia-Caprivi Great Power Line (300MW), Kunene and Popa Falls hydropower stations, Western Power Corridor Project have not yet been started. If everything has been put in place, preciously if we could ensure a steady economic growth, the aforesaid projects will take another 5 to 8 years to generate adequate power to sustain our planned industrialization. Plans Yet To Be Implemented We buy electricity from South Africa’s Koeberg nuclear power plant. It is now under repair and needs at least 10 months to recover. The construction of South Africa’s 12 million housing units, World Cup 2010, and the growing heavy industries would not cope with the present 33 000 MW power supply of South Africa. Hence, we cannot rely on South Africa after the termination of the present power-supply contract that is about to expire. Namibia does not have oil wells, coal mines or nuclear reactors. We have to import oil or coal at high prices. This drags on our limited budgetary resources. Besides that, we did not invest in power generation. Therefore, the nation should treat power supply as a national emergency and develop sound and realistic strategies for energy independence. Urgent Needs We have determined to start the Vision 2030 engine in collaboration with the National Development Plan 3-2006/2010. This five-year plan would not be successful without an uninterrupted energy flow. As President Bush rightly said in his annual state-of-the-union address, we should seek immediate solutions to address the basic energy needs of the masses, industries and service sectors. As Dr Leake Hangala, CEO of Nampower recently said, “We have no option in the country” (New Era: 07.02.2006). Due to the decreasing power supply, we may face many power cuts in the near future. This can derail our national development agendas. Renewable Energies The renewable energies (e.g. solar, wind, biogas, vegetable-fuel) inherit technological limitations. We cannot operate heavy manufacturing plants or modern transport systems with renewable energy. For instance, we can use solar power or biogas to electrify a village, but not the Scorpion Zinc Mine or Ramatex Textile Factory. Here, we need fossil fuel, hydro-electricity, or nuclear reactors. India, an emerging high-tech nation, generates only 5 percent of energy from renewable sources, because of the high capital costs. To bring costs down they deserve extensive research. Anyhow, renewable energy would cover around 10 percent of power needs in Namibia. Aggressive Actions To guarantee the immediate energy needs for the first phase of our vision (2006-2010), the following proposals may be helpful for the policy crafters and decision-makers in Namibia. (1) The National Planning Commission, Presidential Economic Advisory Board and Nampower can design a Medium Term Emergency Action Plan (2006-10) to ensure 500 MW electricity and fossil oil to move the vision. (2) Resembling the energy-hunting expeditions of the USA, China and India, Namibia should register its strong politico-economic presence in Africa’s oil producing countries (e.g Algeria, Congo, Ghana. Ivory Cost, Nigeria, Libya, Sudan) and sign long-term oil agreements with them. (3) Establishing a 200 MW-pebble bed Nuclear Reactor (PNR). They can fix and operate quickly. Presently, China and South Africa use PNRs. The nuclear power is re-emerging as a viable power source. Nearly 59 nuclear reactors cover 78 percent of national power needs of France. America gets 20 percent of power from nuclear reactors. China’s 30 nuclear plants will generate 36 000 MW. (4) A medium size (300 MW) ‘clean-coal technology’ power plant. Botswana’s coal mines. Germany’s Siemens Company has planned to build a railway line linking Botswana and Namibia that would transport coal for us. (5) Subsidized renewable energy units or remote villages and low-income groups (6) Restructuring our Nampower as an “African hub for the energy industry,” – a Siemens or Chevron. Utilizing its experiences, resources, and good image, Nampower can dominate the energy marketing, power lines construction, grid maintenance and training. The energy security can be guaranteed only through research, technology and strategic planning. As John R. Kiely, Chairman of Conservation Commission of the World Energy Conference noted, “Resolute action is needed without delay and a long term program, resolutely pursued: and they are required now.”