What key projects have you worked on?
We here at Light Systems Namibia consider all our projects as key projects. Every project from the smallest right to the biggest is carried out with the same level of passion ensuring our values are reflected in each one. Every project we’ve completed successfully brings a sense of satisfaction irrespective of size. The gratification of our Solar off-grid clients is most memorable. These are people who depended on hazardous sources of electricity like candles and kerosene and the smile on their faces after we install a safe, renewable solar solution is unforgettable. Our Solar grid-tied projects are noteworthy as they present interesting challenges which our team enjoys working on. The 50kWp Grid-Tied system at Dolphin Supermarket in Rehoboth is our biggest at the moment. We are working tirelessly to work on an even bigger project. We have also carried out a number of other Solar Grid-tied systems around the country.
How many people are currently employed at LSN?
We currently have a staff complement of around 10 full-time and 4 part-time. They are spread between our 2 offices in Windhoek and Ongwediva. We receive numerous requests for employment and job-attachments especially from the youth and assist where we can thus we normally have 1 or 2 additional people in our offices during certain months as we try to provide some work experience to these youths.
What are the main misconceptions towards solar in Namibia?
The uptake of solar in Namibia is still limited at the moment. Data collected from private households on energy for cooking, lighting and heating in the Namibia 2011 Population and Housing Census Main Report indicate that only 1.2% of Namibians use Solar Energy for lighting, 0.1 for cooking and 0.4% for heating. There are various reasons for this limited uptake. Many say solar energy is too expensive. While the initial investment is high, the savings on your electricity bill over time makes solar energy more affordable now than ever as prices of electricity keep increasing year-on-year. Some believe Solar power is unreliable. With sufficient investment, Solar energy can be more reliable than traditional electricity. Another myth is that Solar energy doesn’t work in rainy, cloudy, foggy, cold weather or doesn’t work at night. Solar panels work fine in ambient light and will produce significant energy in the fog or on overcast days. With storage mediums like batteries, or heat absorbing medium for Concentrated Solar Thermal Power, power can be provided at night.
What is needed at government level with regards to focusing attention on solar?
Government has been very vocal of late in coming up with solutions to energy security for Namibia. Currently, the country imports over 60% of its energy needs from its neighbors, a concerning situation for a country with serious growth plans. The Harambee Prosperity Plan, which is the Namibian Government’s action plan towards prosperity for all Namibians, states that the country should “Increase local electricity generating capacity from 400 MW to 600 MW” and places an increased emphasis on renewable energy. Government’s language towards solar energy is motivating as it indicates genuine government will to utilize solar energy in the country.
Take us through some of the key solutions you provide?
Light Systems Namibia Designs, Installs, Monitors and Maintains renewable energy solutions to meet the needs of our clients. Solutions include Solar off-grid systems, Solar Grid-Tied Systems, Solar Water Heaters (Solar Geysers), Solar Street Lights and Solar Powered borehole systems. For Grid-Tied systems, we have the following segments: Metro Light: which caters for Residential clients and system size range from 1kW to 10kw Urban Light: which caters for Commercial and Retail Spaces and system size range from 5kW to 50kw. Industrial Light: which caters for Industrial and Small Business and system size range from 10kW to 50kw. Power Light: which caters for Large power users and system size range from 50kW upwards. There is a Light Field O&M which caters for Maintenance. In the Solar off-grid system segment, systems range from 180W onwards and come with solar batteries.
What would you advise commercial entities on the energy solutions that you have?
Go Solar! The sun will never send you an invoice for the energy it provides. Our Solar grid tied systems can cut up to 60% of your current electrical bill depending on your type of business and hours of operation. The return on investment for most of our solutions is usually 5 years where after, you will be getting free electricity apart from maintenance costs.
Give us a brief profile about the founding partners of LSN.
I met my business partner Lyndon Elliott in Beijing, China in 2008. The energy sector has always been of interest to us and it made sense to venture into the energy business. Prior to Light Systems Namibia, I lectured at the University of Namibia’s Faculty of Engineering and IT in Ongwediva for 6 years. Lyndon has a banking and investment background.