By Desie Heita
Government’s efforts to promote renewable energy have met with poor system performance, bad installations and inadequate after-sales services as entrepreneurs try to cash in on consumer demand.
The demand for renewable energy sources shot up to a current backlog of 800 clients following Government’s promotion campaign since 1993, which supports the use of solar lighting and solar water heating in Namibia.
To address the problems of quality and poor workmanship, the Ministry of Mines and Energy launched a national technical committee this week. The committee would ensure the quality of service in the industry and give consumer protection.
“These unfortunate developments have necessitated regulating and monitoring players in this young sector in order to protect consumers and [uphold] the reputation of the technology,” said Joseph Iita, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
The Ministry of Mines and Energy also provides funds to consumers who wish to purchase solar heating and solar water systems. The funds are provided through a revolving fund. This fund now has a backlog of clients.
“The fund has been overwhelmed by applications. The significant rise is primarily due to the number of awareness programmes taken by the ministry,” said Iita.
The awareness programmes include the Namibia Energy Renewable Programme (NAMREP), and the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Institute (REEEI). Last year Cabinet directed that solar water heaters be installed in all government buildings.
The technical committee consists of representatives from the ministry, the Ministry of Works and Transport,
Namibian Standards Institution, Namibia Training Authority, Electricity Control Board, NamPower, the Renewable Energy Industry Association of Namibia, and the association of solar technicians.
“In establishing a product certification system, the purpose is to demonstrate to the marketplace and regulator that a supplier can and does produce products in conformity with a normative document,” said Iita.
The technical committee will use international standardisation, which the Namibia Standards Institution would provide at no cost.