Lüderitz Sets Pace in Wind Energy

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK Some residents of the LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz district have embarked on a project to test the feasibility of wind energy at the coastal town. The scheme, called the LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz Wind Energy Demonstration Project, is one of last week’s 12 grant recipients of the United Nations Development Fund/Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (SGP) to experiment with the use of wind energy for one year. LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz is one of the best wind sites in Namibia where the wind blows at between 6 and 7 metres and up to 12 metres per second. The area is frequented by strong southwesterly winds resulting from an interplay between the atmospheric pressure systems, solar radiation, the earth’s rotation and the topography of the region. Another feature supporting the project is the occurrence of Berg winds during the winter months of the year, seasonal conditions that make LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz one of the windiest places on earth. Project Coordinator, Ndako Asser Mukapuli, told New Era yesterday the project would put up a system that will test the durability, capacity, energy production, fitness for weather conditions and cost benefits of household wind energy systems. The project seeks to demonstrate the potential use of small wind systems to provide clean alternative and cheap electricity to LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz and in the long run address issues of technical, institutional and financial barriers. The ultimate goal is to formulate and recommend practical proposals, provide training and introduce trial experiments in the use of home-based wind energy systems that can be used to supply electricity to individual homes, water pumping for aquaculture farms and other energy demands for factories and businesses. Although the systems will be used to power light bulbs, a radio and TV set and other home appliances, during peak wind speeds the excess energy can be stored in batteries and used in the absence of wind and when wind intensity has reduced. Mukapuli said the project would disseminate first-hand information on the use of wind energy to the community to enable it to appreciate it better in terms of responsibility to the environment. He said that experience has it that a turbine of 9 to 12 metres could be put up to produce 500 to 1 500 watts of power. Normal household electricity consumption is between 300 and 400 watts per month while in LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz the average consumption is 500 watts per month. The production would however depend on the size of the turbine and the wind speed. With problems of energy supply in the country and the projected increase in electricity prices, Mukapuli said: “We are trying to counter this problem and also trying to contribute to the reduction of emissions that contribute to global warming.” The project was initiated in April 2006 and consists of 14 people who are experts in different fields. At present, the project is still in its planning stages and its management has written letters to relevant institutions for support, such as town councils, schools and companies. The US$50 000 (N$380 000) donation from the SGP will enable the project to kick-start its activities through workshops. This scheme illustrates the growing interest in wind energy as an alternative source of electricity as opposed to fossil fuels that are finite. Last month, the Electricity Control Board revealed that developers from the Netherlands had submitted a proposal to the country?s power utility to generate 90 megawatts of power in the coastal areas of LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz, Walvis Bay and Oranjemund. Although many countries have considerable wind resources, which are still untapped, wind energy has no green gas emissions, it can make a contribution to regional electricity supply and to power supply diversification, it is flexible with regard to increasing energy demand and can make use of local resources in terms of labour, capital and materials. At present, Namibian consumers buy their electricity for 18c/kwh while that from wind would be sold at 35c/kwh, but with lack of security of supply at present electricity prices will increase to a point when power from wind will become cheaper and more competitive within five years.