Namibia Breweries Limited’s (NBL’s) N$50 million biomass boiler, which has been in operation since May this year but was only inaugurated by Vice-President Dr Nicky Iyambo last week, is expected to curb the company’s carbon footprint by 40 percent and will contribute to a reduction in operating costs of up to N$10 million per annum. The boiler, which is a first for the country, is part of NBL’s contribution to the O&L Group’s vision of reducing its carbon footprint by 20 percent by the year 2019.
The biomass boiler aims to replace at least 80 percent of the current 3 600 tonnes of heavy fuel oil (HFO) at NBL’s plant in Windhoek with 7 500 tonnes of wood chips. This in turn reduces carbon dioxide emissions with at least 8 000 tonnes per annum. The wood chips used to generate the process heat for the NBL operation are a product of the current bush-thinning project undertaken by O&L Energy, through its affiliate Organic Energy Solutions. The bush-thinning process involves the harvesting of invader bush, which is processed into wood chips for utilisation as fuel in NBL’s biomass boiler.
According to NBL Managing Director Wessie van der Westhuizen, the bush-thinning project comes as a solution to the bush encroachment problem that has dire effects on agricultural activity in the country. “Bush encroachment has proven to be a significant challenge to agricultural activity in Namibia as it affects the cattle-carrying capacity. It thus has a serious impact on the environment and agricultural production causing land degradation, suppressing grass growth in grazing areas and reducing the capacity for livestock. In a worst case scenario, bush encroachment makes large areas of land unusable. However, Organic Energy Solutions conducted extensive research to turn the bush encroachment challenge into an opportunity and in so doing reduce the negative impact of invader bush by thinning it and using it as an energy resource. In order to render the bush-thinning activities sustainably, it is crucial that end-applications for the bush products are developed. For this reason, NBL invested in the biomass boiler technology to enable us to utilize this local unwanted resource. This installed technology allows us now to generate our process heat requirements with local bush fuel as opposed to imported fossil fuels,” said Van der Westhuizen.
O&L Executive Chairman Sven Thieme expressed his excitement at the biomass boiler that contributes significantly to the O&L vision of reducing its carbon footprint. “The biomass boiler celebrates innovation and breakthrough leadership which speaks to the O&L vision which is to be the most progressive and inspiring company. I am confident that this milestone brings us a step closer to realising the O&L 2019 Vision, and that it will play a significant role in the success of the national sustainability agenda,” said Thieme.
During his keynote address at the inauguration, which was also attended by the Minister of Agriculture, Water & Forestry, John Mutorwa, Iyambo stressed the importance of leadership and innovation for the future of Namibia, and commended the O&L Group, in particular its subsidiaries NBL and O&L Energy, for leading by example.
“We recognise and deeply value the pioneering role you are playing in supporting government to achieve the ideals and objectives of Vision 2030 as well as that of the Harambee Prosperity Plan. The O&L Group has always demonstrated commitment, drive and passion to be a leader in innovation, creativity, and ambition, amongst others. And there’s no shortage of innovation in the projects and partnerships enjoyed by and with the O&L Group as is evident by this milestone celebration. I congratulate the O&L Group, subsidiaries and management for their longstanding commitment to the economic development of Namibia, which has been further cemented by this latest re-investment,” said Iyambo.
He also thanked the workers, who he referred to as the backbone of the O&L Group, for their commitment towards the progress of the company over the years.