Alweendo speaks energy sector reforms

By Hilary Mare

WITH the recently introduced reforms in Namibia’s renewable energy sector and the growing presence and entry of international oil companies into the hydrocarbons sector, Mines and Energy Minister Tom Alweendo has expressed optimism about the country’s energy future.

Namibia, which has more than 300 days of sunshine a year, has the potential to benefit as the worldwide boom in the solar market results in reduced costs and improved efficiency of solar photovoltaic panels and related equipment.

“On the renewable energy sector, we’ve been able to introduce some reforms that have made it possible for independent power producers to come into the sector and produce clean energy, especially through solar and wind,” Alweendo said during a webinar hosted by the African Energy Chamber in partnership with Africa Oil & Power last week.

Alweendo was joined by African Energy Chamber executive chairperson NJ Ayuk, who encouraged a practical and realistic energy transition that addressed the continent’s energy needs first.

“Oil and gas are going to be around for a long time and will remain a major part of many countries across Africa. The same can be said for clean energy. We have to be environmentally conscious and ensure that lowering carbon emissions remains a key priority,” Ayuk stated in a media release.

Although Namibia is endowed with solar and wind, their productive use has been subdued.

Bloomberg reported last year that state-run utility Namibia Power would build four plants powered by renewable energy over the next five years as the Southern African nation sought to guarantee local supplies and cut its use of fossil fuels.

The plants, generating a combined 220 MW, would cost 4.7 billion Namibian dollars ($338-million), NamPower MD Kahenge Haulofu was quoted as saying at the launch of the company’s business plan for 2019-2023. NamPower currently imports about 60% of its needs, mostly from South Africa. Bloomberg reported that construction would be financed by internal resources.

Namibia, which has abundant available land area and a relatively small population of 2.6-million people, is said to have potential sites for the development of large-scale wind-power projects.

As reported by Engineering News & Mining Weekly last year, the costs of renewable energy projects with storage in some parts of Namibia were already on a par with electricity grid costs. Solar and wind resources could be used as bountiful energy sources for development, Energy Partners Solar CEO Manie de Waal was quoted as saying at the time.

Although Namibia was largely a consuming country, it hoped to grow its upstream industry, improve energy security through diversifying its energy mix. In achieving this, the country looked forward to collaborating with the private sector to review its policies in order to attract further investment, the release stated.

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