NamPower Mulls Power Sharing

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Namibia’s electricity utility NamPower is currently weighing the option of rationing power to its clients on a limited basis within the next 12 months when the region’s power woes are set to worsen due to the fact that demand is surpassing supply. The bulk power supplier recently started consulting with various stakeholders in the energy sector on how best to save the commodity in case of a shortfall in the country. This short-term measure comes in light of possible power shortage situations that face the sub region in general and the repair work underway at one of the Koeberg Nuclear Plant’s units on which Namibia is heavily dependent. Refuelling of the second unit with new nuclear power will soon commence, lasting approximately six weeks. Currently, Namibia during peak periods imports 120 MW from Eskom, South Africa’s power utility, which is now facing problems in transmitting all the power. The country’s generation capacity is 384 MW, while its demand is close to 500 MW. As a result NamPower recently also announced that it would have to run all its power stations to full capacity in order to fill the gap that has been left by technical problems experienced in South Africa. In a recent interview with New Era, NamPower’s Chief Technical Adviser Reiner Jagau said that as a short-term plan the company has informed its customers that a possible “limited rolling rationing” of power in the country has to be implemented, if the supply from South Africa is reduced. Through consultation with the Regional Electricity Distributors (REDs) strategies are being addressed as to how the country’s regions will be sub-divided for rationing power. Elaborating on how this will be managed, Senior Manager of Transmission Supply Business Brown Vermeulen said that it is expected to be done on a “shift demand-peak domain” process. “We are closely monitoring the system with the regional distributors and other stakeholders in the energy sector to look at supplying electricity on a shift demand basis like another peak domain,” explained Vermeulen. He added that greater priority would be placed on critical areas like hospitals, while at the same time trying not to affect businesses through the rolling rationing process. With the winter period just around the corner for the next two to three months, the country’s energy consumption rate tends to rise substantially over this period. However, in an effort to promote energy saving methods, the local power utility has been in close consultation with its clients. “It is important to indicate to the customers about the eventuality of a shortage of power in the country,” said Vermeulen, adding that the emphasis should more be on saving the much-needed energy in the country. Yet as a long-term solution, NamPower is looking into generating electricity from the Kudu gas to power plant, Baynes Hydro-Electric power station on the Kunene River and the Western Corridor (WESTCOR) project, generating power at the Inga site in the DRC and transmitting it to through Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. Phase one of the Kudu gas plant will generate 800 MW of electricity and will ensure a security of supply to Namibia. So far good progress has been made on this project.