Namibia urged to take lead in solar energy usage

Jul 14, 2006 02:00 AM

Namibia has the best solar reserves in the world and the country should become an international leader in the field of solar and wind energy use, an academic has said.
Speaking in Windhoek at the launch of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Institute (REEEI), Polytechnic Rector Dr Tjama Tjivikua said fossil fuels like oil and coal would soon be exhausted and conflicts caused oil prices to rise.

"We must be sensible enough to realise that renewable energies are the road to the future," Tjivikua said. The use of cleaner fuel sources would lead to a less polluted world and better efficiency.
"The Government should subsidise all energy-efficient and renewable energy technologies and tax wasteful technologies like electric geysers," the Rector of the Polytechnic stated.

To really push the use of solar and wind power, innovative thinking was required, which the new institute at the Polytechnic should provide. Tjivikua even proposed a small levy on electricity which could be used to expand the use of alternative power sources.
The Ministry of Mines and Energy provided N$ 2.8 mm for the institute. During the initial phase, it will be run by a research coordinator and an administrative officer. The REEEI will draw academic staff and students from various departments of the Polytechnic to research and foster the development of alternative energy resources with other institutions and the private sector.

In his speech, which was read on his behalf by Education Minister Nangolo Mbumba, Mines and Energy Minister Erkki Nghimtina said there was a potential capacity of 500 MW of renewable energy supply that could be developed.
"Renewable energy sources are the future as we are running out of conventional energy," Nghimtina added.

Namibia has an electricity demand of some 480 MW and two-thirds of that is imported from South Africa. Six years ago, the Ministry of Mines and Energy decided to outsource some functions of the renewable energy section such as research, promotion and development. Negotiations with the Polytechnic started then to discuss if that institution could house a centre of excellence for renewable energies and an agreement was signed last year.
As far back as 1994 the Ministry explored the possibility of using solar power and established pilot projects for remote areas to provide off-grid solar energy to the Lianshulu Solar Village in Caprivi, the Onamunama Combined Solar Village in Ohangwena and the Spitzkoppe Village in the Erongo Region in 1996.

The Ministry intends to explore wind energy, biogas and biomass as well as generating electricity from ocean waves. A proposed 10 MW wind park for Luederitz has not yet materialised, although two different studies have been completed.
Last year, the first wind turbine was erected outside Walvis Bay by the private sector. It is connected to the coastal electricity grid.

Source: The Namibian
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