Namibia Power Corp. expects to return its 120-megawatt Van Eck power station to the grid next June after completing an upgrade of the site’s four units, allowing the southwest African country to reduce energy imports.
“Van Eck will start running by the middle of next year with improved efficiency,” Paulinus Shilamba, managing director of the state-owned utility known as Nampower, said today by telephone from Windhoek. The unreliability of the old generating units had pushed up production costs, he said.
The coal-fired station, situated in Windhoek’s northern industrial area, has been undergoing a 300 million-Namibian-dollar ($29 million) refurbishment since 2012 and two of its units are due to be ready in February. The nation is seeking to expand generation capacity to meet rising demand and curb reliance on imported electricity.
Namibia brings in almost 80 percent of its power from Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Lower water levels in the Kunene River in the north of the country during the dry season cut the availability of Nampower’s Ruacana hydropower station to eight hours a day, Shilamba said.
While the hydro plant, about 760 kilometers (470 miles) from Windhoek, has installed capacity of 340 megawatts, output can fall as low as 100 megawatts, according to Shilamba. The country is in the grip of the worst drought in 30 years.