Expert sees potential for energy self-sufficiency

A Finnish energy expert who recently visited Windhoek has shared his thoughts on Namibia’s energy situation.

09 November 2018 | Economics

In this context Namibia is the best-placed country in Africa for the highest solar irradiation on the continent. - Mark Zoeters, business development manager, Wärtsilä Energy Solutions

NDAMA NAKASHOLE

Energy challenges in Namibia are related to adding domestic generating capacity in an economically viable and environmentally sustainable way, increasing the share of renewables such as wind and solar PV in the power system, and increasing the country’s energy self-sufficiency.

However, increasing the share of renewables in the energy system requires multiple forms of flexibility.

These are contained in an emailed response by the regional business development manager for the Finnish energy company Wärtsilä Energy Solutions, Mark Zoeters.

Zoeters, who recently attended the Finland World Ideas seminar in Windhoek, said Wärtsilä’s engine-based power plants and energy storage and integration solutions provide the needed operational flexibility to integrate renewables.

They also provide capacity for grid stability, peaking and load-following generation, and back-up power for integrating wind and solar energy, securing power system reliability.

“Wärtsilä’s flexible and efficient solutions enable a transition to a more sustainable and modern energy system,” said Zoeters.

He added that Wärtsilä’s solutions support the optimisation of local electricity supply by integrating for example renewable energy sources such as wind and solar PV, energy storage and flexible generation capacity.

This enables energy self-sufficiency and would help to establish a secure and stable electrification network, allowing sustainable economic growth in Namibia in the future, he said.

“These kinds of project activities will also increase local employment in Namibia,” he added.

Continental angle

Zoeters went on to say that the world is in the middle of a huge energy transition towards more sustainable and modern energy systems, and Africa is driving this global development.

With the Sun Belt running across the continent, he said Africa is optimally located to generate enormous amounts of solar and wind energy.

“In this context Namibia is the best-placed country in Africa for the highest solar irradiation on the continent,” he said.

Along with the constant increase in energy demand and falling technology prices, the renewables will become the new baseload in energy generation, permanently changing the power system, he said.

“With the huge potential of renewable energy in Africa, focus should be made on this and the correct integration of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar PV, energy storage and flexible generation capacity.”

Asked whether he thinks Namibia has the capacity to be self-reliant in the energy sector, Zoeters said: “Yes, absolutely, if Namibia fully embraces renewable energy technologies supported by flexible generation capacity, the country may become from being a net importer of energy towards being a net exporter of energy to other countries within the South African Power Pool, allowing the sustainable economic growth of Namibia in the future.”

He said Namibia’s geographical location is extremely favourable to achieve the earlier mentioned goals.

Expertise

Wärtsilä is a global leader in smart technologies and complete lifecycle solutions for the marine and energy markets. By emphasising sustainable innovation, total efficiency, and data analytics, Wärtsilä maximises the environmental and economic performance of its customers’ vessels and power plants.

In 2017, Wärtsilä's net sales totalled EUR4.9 billion and it has approximately 18 000 employees. The company has operations in over 200 locations in more than 80 countries. Wärtsilä is listed on Nasdaq Helsinki.

Wärtsilä Energy Solutions says it is leading the transition towards a 100% renewable energy future.

“As an energy systems integrator, we understand, design, build and serve optimal power systems for future generations. Our offering includes ultra-flexible internal combustion engine-based power plants, hybridised solar power plants, and energy storage and integration solutions.

“Wärtsilä’s solutions provide the needed flexibility to integrate renewables and secure power system reliability. Wärtsilä has 68 GW of installed power plant capacity in 177 countries around the world,” Zoeters said.

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