April 2, 2012

Power shortage looms

Namibia is facing a power shortage for the first time in its history and NamPower has asked everybody in the country to cut their use of electricity by at least ten per cent to prevent blackouts. “With the assistance from our big customers to the end-user, NamPower will ensure that there are no power interruptions, and if any, that they be kept to the minimum,” NamPower managing director Paulinus Shilamba said. Assuring Namibians that the power supply situation was “under control”, Shilamba said the country should brace itself for a power deficit of 80 megawatt (MW) this winter.

This deficit is expected to grow to 150MW at the end 2013 as NamPower’s power purchase agreement (PPA) with the Zimbabwean power utility Zesa ends. By 2015, Namibia’s power deficit is likely to blow up to 300MW as demands from the country’s growing mining sector kicks in. Shilamba said the “next three to four years will remain critical for Namibia” until NamPower can commission its base load power station in 2016. The NamPower board of directors has subsequently approved seven measures as part of its Short Term Critical Supply Project (STCS) to secure electricity, costing at least N$385 million. This year’s power deficit is due to power supply problems at Eskom and the South African power utility considering cutting its exports to neighbours. Eskom supplies more than 70 per cent of electricity generated in the region, and NamPower imports a “significant amount” of its power needs from especially Eskom, Shilamba said. He added that despite its age and perceived environmental concerns, Van Eck Power Station “remains a critical component” of NamPower’s ability to generate electricity. Approximately N$85 million will therefore be pumped into the rehabilitation of the power station to extend its life time by five years. Shilamba said work on the implementation of the project has already started and will be completed within the next four months. (The Namibian)

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