THERE have been recent media reports, indicating that the deliberate switching off of electricity in certain areas at a certain time is going to be implemented in Namibia.
The managing director of NamPower, Paulinus Shilamba, flanked by the minister of energy, Obeth Kandjoze, appeared on NBC recently to shed more light on the reports surrounding the issue of load-shedding.
The situation is very concerning indeed, seeing that Namibia imports twice as much electricity as it produces. Of the 4 384 GWh of electricity put into the grid in 2014, based on the NamPower annual report, only 1,498 GWh (34%) was generated in the country.
In the 2013 NamPower financial report, 97% of the electricity produced in Namibia was from a single installation, the Ruacana hydro power station. Despite the omission of this data from the 2014 report, it is clear that the situation has not changed significantly.
It has always been assumed that we would have a crisis in the energy supply in Namibia because we rely so heavily on our neighbours. Namibia imported over 66% of its energy needs from neighbours in 2014.
A country with serious development plans cannot place such a huge amount of its energy needs in the hands of other countries. No one can escape the reality that electricity/energy drives development. The stakes are just too high as the Namibian economy risks grinding to a halt if other countries do not deliver and, instead, prioritise their own development.
Recently, NamPower asked the mines ministry, local authorities and electricity distributors to cut down on their loads. If the situation gets worse, load-shedding will be implemented on a rational basis to prioritise supply.
The situation the country is currently faced with could have been averted, had Namibia taken renewable energy solutions seriously. Namibia must be bold enough to take a stand on renewable energy. It is feasible for Namibia to lead the world in solar photovoltaic renewable energy and even generate more towards GDP than mining.
Namibia is blessed with the most abundant solar resources in the world, moderate temperatures and clear skies. The low amount of particles in the air is also a great contributor to the quality of irradiance. In other countries, like Germany and the UK, investments in solar technology are made with the anticipation of a 7% annual return – in Namibia the potential returns approach 25%!
Solar technology performance is tied to a measure called global horizontal irradiance (GHI). Countries with high GHI values are common, but none have moderate climates. Namibia stands out in that heat can escape in our dry atmosphere, whereas other geographies have high temperatures, high humidity and pollution.