Harvesting encroacher bush creates energy opportunities for Namibia

by Deon Schlechter

Harvesting encroacher bush creates energy opportunities for Namibia

Windhoek

Namibia still faces an energy crisis and plans to develop local solutions for electricity generation. Converting encroacher bush to energy seems feasible and has been included in the National Development Plan 4.

During peak times (normally from 06h00-09h00 and 18h00-21h00) electricity usage increases and so does the price.
In Namibia electricity costs a maximum N$2 per kWh and factors, such as generation alone accounts for 98c, transmission 30c, while distribution and other costs are also factored in.



The areas in Namibia being considered for power plants are mainly Otjiwarongo, Outjo and Tsumeb in the north of the country. That is because if production is situated north of Windhoek, it could reduce delays and pressure on the transmission lines down south, which also decreases losses in the power lines.

New studies by the Deutsche Gesellshaft für Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) as part of its Support for De-bushing Project show positive prospects for biomass energy with de-bushing, but the situation on the ground proves that handling, transporting and storing biomass is capital intensive and does not yet justify the investment.

Globally the price per kWh of electricity generated from biomass energy competes with and is often more expensive than fossil fuel. With solar power one needs fewer machines, as the sun is the main factor of production. When using diesel-mechanised machines it could affect the consumer price index, as the price for oil is never stable.

The study concluded that there is extensive and diverse demand for biomass on both domestic and international markets, with interest shown by the energy sector, whose especially large demand is sufficient to trigger large-scale bush clearance projects. Bush material can be used as coal or oil in industrial boilers and power plants.

From the government and general majority point of view – if carried out successfully – it can reduce foreign imports and help with rural electrification while employing people in harvesting, selling and helping farmers and animals by improving agricultural activities .

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