Following South Africa’s concentrated solar power (CSP) success in the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, Namibian utility NamPower and the Ministry of Mines and Energy are working on a CSP plant of at least 50 MW with energy storage capabilities.
South Africa has five CSP plants under construction and one in operation. This has pushed Namibia to look at their own performance and towards the end of 2014 NamPower, together with its project partners, reviewed the priority locations by considering the criteria that maximized the value of the first plant in the Namibian network.
Namibia has great renewable, and specifically, solar potential. However, due to the nature of its loads (dispersed across large areas), the unavailability of cheap or easy fossil fuels, and the lack of generation power stations close to load centres, it has to manage complex grid stability challenges.
“It is common knowledge that the CSP technology is still expensive on the basis of a cost-at-plant-gate comparison. However, Namibia is optimistic that the CSP technology brings good value and if compared at a “value addition to the supply mix and grid stability” it might be highly competitive, NamPower generation projects head Margaret Mutschler told CSP Today in a recent interview.
The CSP project, earlier approved by the Cabinet and partially funded by the United Nations Development Programme, has the objective to increase the share of renewable-energy resources in the Namibian energy mix by developing the necessary technological structure and environment for the successful transmission and deployment of CSP for on-grid power generation.
The full CSP Today interview with Mutschler can be found at http://goo.gl/aTdURw. In it she discusses the country’s current electricity and grid challenges, the opportunities for CSP projects in Namibia, the size of these projects, the storage hours, the funding sources available and the mechanism to procure future CSP in the country.