Namibia reaches threshold of energy capacity after sustained renewable energy growth

Namibia has reached the current limit of its total energy capacity after an unprecedented period of growth in its renewable energy industry during the last few years.

The Southwest African country has installed almost 55MW of capacity from renewables in just a few years and has a further 121MW of clean energy projects under construction, according to state-owned utility NamPower.

However, the utility revealed that the total installed capacity combined with committed renewable generation means it is now approaching the threshold to which the national grid can accommodate.

According to 2017 studies, Namibia can handle around 275MW of renewables, about about half of the midday load. The country is still reliant on imports for about 60% of its electricity, mainly from South Africa’s state-owned utility Eskom.

NamPower said it is dependent on Eskom to perform ‘load following’, when a power plant adjusts its output as demand for electricity fluctuates throughout the day.

The Namibian case study reveals how quickly wind and solar farms can penetrate nations before bigger investment is required in the grid, and reflects the opportunities open to renewable energy developers in Africa.

Wind and solar projects are often quicker and cheaper to build on the African continent, compared to coal and natural gas plants, however clean energy sources do not provide consistent 24-hour baseload electricity.

Now, Namibia is planning to reduce power imports while focusing on developing as much as 200MW of biomass power plants along with potential concentrated solar power projects.