WINDHOEK – National power utility, NamPower, will spend over N$7 billion during the next five to seven years on the implementation of its Transmission Infrastructure Expansion Programme. The programme is part of NamPower’s Transmission Master Plan, which is aimed at planning for the future of the national electrical transmission system. The Transmission Master Plan is an operational strategy for the continuous maintenance and upgrade of NamPower’s transmission infrastructure.
“NamPower continues to maintain and upgrade its transmission infrastructure, while expanding it to accommodate the growing electricity demand and generation integration in the country,” reads a statement from the utility.
The statement received this week noted that NamPower reached yet another milestone in its effort to upgrade its infrastructure, with the arrival of two transformers from India, with voltage ratings of 330/132/22kV and 80 MVA capacity. The 71 tons (each) transformers, which are being transported by road, are headed to the new Hippo Substation next to Ruacana Power Station where they will replace the existing aging 330/66/22kV, 40 MVA capacity coupling transformers, which have reached their end of life of more than 30 years at the Power Station.
The new transformers have a larger capacity of 80 MVA, to cater for the increased demand in the northern central area, and to maintain redundancy.
Namibia’s overall current peak demand for electricity is 650 MWs, but the country’s main energy provider, the Ruacana Hydro Power Station has an installed capacity of 347MW, which is supplemented by the ANIXAS Power Station (diesel-powered station at Walvis Bay in the west of Namibia), with an installed capacity of 22.4 MW.
The Van Eck Power Station in Windhoek, which has an installed capacity of 120 MW, is currently undergoing refurbishment and is being used in Synchronous Condenser Operation mode in order to stabilise the transmission grid rather than to generate power.
Other supplements to energy supply in the interim include a number of smaller generation projects, specifically private participation to reduce reliance on imports while waiting on larger projects, such as, the Kudu Power Project and Baynes Hydro Power Project to come to fruition.
Some of the renewable plants already in operation include the solar power purchase agreements NamPower signed for 4.5MW with Innosun (Omburu) and a 20MW power purchase agreement with Greenam Energy that is expected to feed into the grid by mid-2018.
In addition, NamPower signed a power purchase agreement with Diaz Wind Power for the off-take of 44MW from a wind generation plant in December 2017 to be developed near Lüderitz in the south and concluded power purchase agreements with 14 local renewable energy independent power producers, each expected to generate 5MW under the Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff programme.
Ten Independent Power Producers (IIPs) were commissioned in 2016 and 2017 with a total capacity of 50MW, while the remaining four IPPs are expected to become operational by end of the year.
Namibia also has a special arrangement between NamPower and South African power utility, Eskom, which enables Namibia to enjoy special rates in using surplus energy from its southern neighbour. Namibia also imports electricity from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique and the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP) Day Ahead Market, which is sourced from any other producers in the region.
The supply of dependable and affordable electricity is crucial for Namibia’s economy as demand currently outstrips supply. To this end, the Ministry of Mines and Energy has drafted the National Integrated Resource Plan, which provides a 20-year development plan for electricity supply to secure future generation assets through a mix of renewable and baseload power as well as regional power trade through SAPP.
NamPower and the Electricity Control Board are in the process of determining the grid’s capacity to handle intermittent renewable resources. Currently, 70 percent of urban households have access to electricity, while only 19 percent of rural households can access electricity.