Lüderitz-The University of Namibia and Lüderitz Town Council inaugurated and officially handed over the Benguela wind power demonstration plant to residents of Benguela informal settlement in Lüderitz.
The unveiling of the project was held at the coastal town yesterday. The plant supplies affordable wind energy to the low-income urban population of the Benguela shanty housing area of !Nami#nus, where the majority of residents are women and children.
The plant, initially commissioned as a project during 2012, was coordinated and managed by the University of Namibia through the Science and Technology Division of the Multidisciplinary Research Centre, and was sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Finland to the amount of 85,000 euros (approximately N$1.3 million at that time).
The plant operates on five hectares of land donated by the Lüderitz Town Council.
Currently the project features three wind turbines together with all their accessories, which have been delivered and installed on site with the assistance of Kestrel Eveready of South Africa. The wind turbines are functional and currently provide power to a women’s community workshop, which houses four sewing machines.
The wind turbines have a capacity to produce 3.5 kW from each turbine, with a total rated power of 10.5 kW.
In addition, five Benguela community technicians received training on the operation and maintenance of the wind power plant.
Kestrel Eveready commissioned and tested the installed system and verified that everything is functioning as per the technical specifications.
In her welcoming remarks the mayor of Lüderitz, Hilaria Mukapuli, said that a wind turbine system is one of the most environmental-friendly ways of producing affordable electricity and that Lüderitz is very fortunate to be one of the towns in Namibia where the wind blows throughout the year. “There are substantial challenges to be met, but all appear solvable. I therefore commend the efforts of the University of Namibia in conjunction with our Lüderitz community for having engaged in successful research, which translated into the construction and completion of this project,” she said.
An elated project beneficiary and member of the community, Ndako Mukapuli, shared with the audience how the whole project was conceived over eight years ago.
“There exists a direct correlation between marine productivity and wind intensity. The wind is the driving force behind the Benguela upwelling system. Nutrient-rich water from the sea bottom is upwelled to the surface and the wind acts as a pump,” he commented.
These sentiments were echoed by the vice-chancellor of the University of Namibia, Prof. Lazarus Hangula, who said: “Energy continues to be on the priority list of Namibia’s national development agenda, and both as an institution of higher learning and as academics it is our responsibility to become the harbingers in ensuring achievements of NDP’s objectives. Unam is well positioned to address problems that hamper the achievements of development goals through teaching, research and community engagement programmes.”
Hangula promised the university’s commitment to advancing the project through continued research involving the local authority and various stakeholders in ensuring that the wind turbine project is replicated in other parts of Namibia.
In his vote of thanks the chairperson of the //Kharas Regional Council and Councillor of !Nami#nus Constituency, Jan Scholtz, said: “Today’s event is the manifestation, the physical realization of pillars of the Harambee Prosperity Plan as well as the National Development Plans. The project will go a long way in empowering us to provide cheaper electricity and will propel us into the position as the national leader in renewable energy.”
The project is Unam’s direct response to the Ministry of Mines and Energy’s White Paper on Energy. The White Paper calls for the diversification of and investment in the supply of renewable and sustainable energy to, particularly, the low-income population of Namibia. In response to this call, Unam engaged in a demonstration project, which aims at providing sufficient and convincing tangible evidence of wind energy generation. The project is also in line with one of Unam’s three core objectives, namely community engagement. The other two are teaching and research.
Further, the demonstration provides the baseline information on the structure of investment as well as implementation capacities required in the process of establishing more renewable energy supply sources throughout the country. The experience from this demonstration will be used to replicate the erection of similar wind energy sources nation-wide.