Arandis Town Council is eager to capitalise on the potential economic benefits that come with the construction of the N$80 million solar photovoltaic power plant at the town by OLC Arandis Solar Energy.
The municipality on Monday signed a lease agreement for 12.5 hectares of land for 25 years with OLC, that is due to start with construction of the 3.4 megawatt (MW) solar-powered plant in November.
The lease agreement – which excludes the cost of utilities – will generate about N$62 400 in revenue for the council per year.
About 50 jobs are expected to be created during the construction phase, as well as an unspecified number of permanent jobs once the project becomes operational.
The solar plant will be constructed and maintained on behalf of Erongo Red, that earlier this month also signed an agreement with OLC. The power plant is expected to save the regional electricity distributor around N$5.8 million a year and an estimated N$127 million over the 25-year period and will generate over 8.3 million KW hours of emission-free electricity per year.
It will be connected to and synchronised with Erongo Red’s transmission station and will likely supply electricity generated from the sun to the coast for a quarter century.
Arandis Mayor Risto Kapenda said the new power plant would boost the town’s strategic position and also prolong the town’s existence beyond the mines’ lifespan.
“We have prioritised renewable energy as one of the key drivers of the town’s economy and solar energy is increasingly providing clean renewable sustainable energy. So, investing in clean energy is not a decision that limits our economic potential, but an opportunity to lead the global clean technology markets that are currently taking centre-stage. We simply cannot afford to be at the back of the train. We have to be the leaders, leading Namibia – if not the world – in these industries,” he said.
According to Kapenda, the construction of the new solar plant is a step in the right direction for the town that by all means wants to grow and shift its dependency from mining to other sectors, as the town boast an excellent track record of creating a conducive business environment.
Arandis will definitely attract more investors once the power plant is up and running, as the development speaks to the potential for economic growth, employment creation, as well as boosting the town’s status as a tourist destination, he said.
CEO of O&L Energy Bernd Walbaum said the project reflects ways that the public and the private sector can come together to create a win-win situation for Namibia in terms of the provision of power. He said solar energy is one of the key factors that can minimise the need to import electricity and can significantly reduce the cost of electricity for the end user.