Starting strong in Namibia

At least 200 MW of wind power is on the cards in Namibia. The most advanced of two projects is a plan for 92 MW owned equally by United Africa Group, a local property and construction firm, and Dutch wind project developer Aeolus Associated. Aeolus' share, however, is likely to pass to renewable energy producer Théolia, which recently signed an agreement to buy the company, pending due diligence. Operating out of France, Théolia has formed a division to focus on emerging markets, North and Sub-Saharan Africa included (page 28).

The 92 MW project received its initial production licence from the country's Electricity Control Board in April. Turbines will be installed in the wind-rich coastal regions of Lüderitz and Walvis Bay, with construction due to start this autumn, according to Théolia. Funding will partly come from various EU and UN support programs and the sale of carbon credits, while output will be sold to the national utility, NamPower.

The second project concerns two plant of 45 MW and 55 MW, also located in Lüderitz and Walvis Bay, developed by Electrawinds of Belgium, a family-owned renewable energy company. It is waiting for a production licence and if all goes well hopes to install Enercon turbines and will also sell the output to NamPower. The proposed price is EUR 0.08/kWh, though this might fall depending what grants and soft loans are available and if emission credit trading rights are granted under the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism.

The Namibian government is keen to develop renewable energy to help meet rising local demand and to increase self-sufficiency. The country currently has just 393 MW of hydro and thermal plant and has to import about half its energy needs from its neighbours, mainly South Africa. This may not be an option in future as South Africa's own domestic demand rises. To tackle the shortfall Namibia plans to exploit its gas fields and establish a nuclear program based on local uranium deposits, as well as developing renewable resources.

A survey conducted by NamPower and Germany's Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit GmbH in the mid-1990s indicated wind speeds of 6.5-7.5 m/s along the Namibian coast, particularly around Lüderitz and Walvis Bay. So far, however, Namibia boasts just one turbine, a second-hand WindWorld 220 kW unit, erected near Walvis Bay in 2005 with assistance from the Danish development organisation DANIDA.

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