Work Begins On 9.8MW Solar Farm In Namibia

The power produced will help fuel the Erongo desalination plant.

By Sneha A on
10th August 2023

InnoSun Energy Holdings has begun construction work on a 9.8 MW solar farm at Trekkopje in Namibia. The power produced will supply the Erongo desalination plant (EDP), which is operated by French nuclear group Orano.

The EDP is located in Wlotzkasbaken in the Erongo region of western Namibia and contributes to the overall supply of potable water in the region, including the town of Swakopmund, the uranium mines and other industries nearby. In 2021, the plant produced 12.7 million cubic metres of fresh water. 

The Trekkopje solar farm will enable Orano to provide water to the Erongo region from a renewable power source that is more affordable in the long term, as well as contribute to efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of the EDP. 

This is the second such facility aimed to supply the desalination plant. In 2021, InnoSun Energy Holdings signed a 10-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Orano for a 5MW solar power plant to supply the facility. This plant is set to lower the EDP’s annual greenhouse gas emissions by 30%, equivalent to 9,722 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

InnoSun Energy Holdings is a subsidiary of French wind and solar power developer InnoVent.

Namibia has some of the highest sun radiation levels in the world, estimated at a daily rate of 5-6 kilowatt hours per square metre and up to 10 hours a day for more than 300 days a year. However, the country is a net importer of electricity from South Africa and the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP). 

Estimates are that fewer than 10% of rural households have access to electricity, either from the grid or through local power generation. Peak power demand was more than 600MW in 2022, according to figures from the US Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration.

A total of 140,936 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity was imported in June 2023, according to figures from NamPower, the national power utility, and published by the Namibia Statistics Agency. This capacity was mainly sourced from Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (Zesco) - 92.4%, and South African utility Eskom’s Orange River stations - 7.6%. 

In 2017, the government published the Renewable Energy Policy, which aims for 70% of the country’s energy to come from renewable energy sources by 2030. Meanwhile, the US government-led Power Africa partnership is working with the authorities to add between 300-500MW of solar capacity in the country by 2024 to meet expected domestic demand, as well as between 3-5GW of new solar capacity by 2030 to transform Namibia into a net energy exporter.

The Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) recently published its Namibia quarterly economic review for the first quarter of 2023 in which it questions the robustness of the country’s electricity supply industry. In the report, the IPPR quotes that of the total supply of 4,097 gigawatt hours (GWh) into the Namibian grid during the year, NamPower supplied 816GWh and domestic suppliers and independent power projects (IPPs) supplied a further 364GWh. Eskom supplied 1,253GWh, Zesco supplied 1,018GWh and Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) supplied 390GWh. A further 256GWh was purchased from the SAPP short-term energy market. Overall imports accounted for 71.2% of total electricity supply, making Namibia vulnerable to developments in the rest of the region, said the IPPR report.

Photo: InnoSun 5MW solar plant in Erongo (© InnoVent)

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