The power utility NamPower increased its power generation capacity by 15MW from 332MW to 347MW at the Ruacana power station, where three turbine runner units were commissioned on Friday.
The Ruacana hydroelectric plant is the country’s largest electricity-generating facility in that it contributes nearly half of the country’s estimated 3.5 million watt-hours annual electricity consumption.
The successful completion of the turbine runners replacement project at the station also saw an improvement in turbine efficiency and capacity to generate more electricity during low-flow seasons.
The N$140 million project was completed within two years.
The turbine runners replacement is part of the 2012 short-term critical supply programme of short and medium-term projects to be implemented to address the shortage of electricity until a base-load power station is commissioned.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Energy Simeon Negumbo said the additional capacity would contribute to the national development plans and subsequently meet the national policy goals, specifically on security of energy supply.
Neumbo added that the increased output from Ruacana power station is a step in the right direction to supply Namibia with electricity from its own resources.
“The increased output from Ruacana power station has increased the peaking capability of NamPower’s generation, and in so doing, has taken NamPower another step forward in being able to supply Namibia from its own resources,” said Neumbo.
Managing Director at NamPower Kahenge Simson Haulofu said the company will strategically address some of the challenges it faces such as the reliance on imports of electricity, which currently stands at an average of 60 percent yearly and up to 80 percent during the dry seasons.
Haulofu further said NamPower would continue to play a major role in ensuring security of supply for the country and its people.
Negumbo has appealed to independent power producers (IPPs) to come on board and complement conventional power generation sources.
Negumbo said the fourth National Development Plan (NDP4), which will soon be replaced by the fifth NDP, identifies energy as the vehicle for industrialisation.
He linked NDP5 to the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP), which aims for zero national load shedding during the HPP period from 2016/2017 to 2019/2020; an increase in local electricity generation capacity from 400 megawatts (MW) to 600 MW by the year 2020; provision of electricity to all schools and health facilities by 2020; and increasing the rural electrification rate from 34 percent in 2015 to 50 percent by 2020.
Negumbo said it is a known fact that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region is facing critical power supply shortages, which makes efforts of self-sustenance in the area of local power supply a huge milestone.
Negumbo’s sentiments were echoed by Haulofu who said the whole of southern Africa, including Namibia, is facing power supply challenges as demand for electricity has exceeded supply and continues to increase.
He said given the status quo, the national power utility in 2012 introduced a short-term critical supply (STCS) programme, under which a number of short- to medium-term projects have been and continue being implemented to address the shortage of electricity until a base-load power station is commissioned.
“One of the projects under the STCS programme is the upgrading and rehabilitation of existing generation stations, with the aim to increase local generation capacity by available capacity. The turbine runners replacement project at the Ruacana power station is one such initiative,” Haulofu said.
The commissioning of the three turbine units overlapped with the 20th anniversary of NamPower, which took over the function performed by then SWAVEK under the colonial regime.
NamPower turned 20 years on July 1st 2016. – Additional reporting by Nampa.