Electricity in Namibia

Namibia imports most of its electricity from South Africa and other countries in the region, namely Zimbabwe… So, what – if any energy and electricity – do we produce ourselves and how – thermal, hydro- power, solar, wind… etc.

A special arrangement between NamPower and Eskom, the South African Power utility, enables Namibia to buy and utilise the surplus energy from SA at affordable rates. We are, however, all aware of the energy crisis that has hit South Africa and that will, inevitably, also spill over to us. South Africa is currently not able to meet the growing demands in their own country and there is always the possibility that, in the not too distant future, Namibia will have to look at alternative sources and start standing on its own feet. Namibia is left with no option but to look at alternative power generation sources much as the Kudu Gas-to-Power Project and the Epupa Baynes.

In Namibia, NamPower buys electricity outside Namibia and sells inside the country and this has enabled them to obtain a better cost structure and readily available power supplies. With the restructuring of the electricity distribution sector, NamPower is gradually pulling out of direct distribution, but will continue to be involved in distribution via shareholding in the REDs (Regional Electricity Distributors companies).

How is Electricity Made?

In 1831, a man by the name of Michael Faraday, discovered that magnets and moving wire had strange effects on each other when they moved closer together. Faraday found that the mechanical energy used to move a magnet inside a coil of wire could be changed into electrical energy. It is this simple discovery which has led to modern power stations. In large power stations, huge magnets are turned inside vast coils of insulated metal wire. It is here that the primary sources of energy are used.

Supply and Demand

Electricity must be generated as needed, as batteries are not capable of storing the enormous quantities. There is no realistic way to store large quantities of electricity required for distribution to the user. So, the amount being fed into the grid must always match what the customers are taking out. This varies not just from day-to-day, but from minute-to-minute.

Consumers nowadays demand a consistent and reliable electricity supply, of which they have a right to expect, as they pay for superior quality and service. Furthermore – much of the electricity and electronic equipment the consumers use depends on the voltage and frequency remaining accurate and constant. It is possible to predict the pattern of the daily demand fairly accurately, unless something unexpected happens such as a sudden deterioration in the weather.

The peaks in electricity in Namibia usually occur at around 06:00 in the morning and lasts until about midday. A second peak period is normally from around 17:00 until 21:00 in the evening. The increase in the demand in the morning is due to the majority of industries requiring electrical usage, such as mining, railways etc. that come into production.