Image credit: SAPVIA

The Namibian Electricity Control Board (ECB) has issued generation and export licenses to Schonau Solar Energy for a 125MW solar PV plant being developed by renewable energy company Emesco.

The plant, located in Karasburg, Namibia, will generate electricity for 25 years and will export its power via South Africa into the Southern African Power Pool’s (SAPP) competitive electricity markets. These are the first of their size and kind to be issued by the ECB under the Modified Single Buyer (MSB) Framework.

The SAPP operates four competitive electricity markets between twelve member countries and has facilitated trade between utilities in southern Africa since 1995. The operating member countries include Namibia, South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. All countries are primarily represented by each their national utility.

The SAPP is allowing and encouraging private companies to join the power pool to trade electricity via its organised markets. This is supported by the Namibian regulators’ MSB market structure which enables private companies to export power to the power pool.

Emesco’s registration of Schonau Solar Energy as a market participant on SAPP will make it the first independent solar power producer to contribute to the SAPP grid under the MSB framework. NamPower, the Namibian national power utility, together with Schonau Solar Energy as Market Participant on SAPP, will co-ordinate the export and trade of electricity into the SAPP competitive market.

Pinehas Mutota, GM Economic Regulation of ECB, said they are pleased that the Modified Single Buyer Model has gained momentum. “It is our belief that the MSB will contribute to the government’s objectives for Namibia to become an energy exporter. The issuing of the Generation and Export licenses to Schonau and other players is an indication and commitment by the Namibian Government to assist in reducing the power deficit in the region.”

Namibia diversifying the region’s energy mix

Pieter Rossouw, Commercial Director of Emesco, said the Schonau project is a major step towards Namibia becoming a net exporter of energy through harnessing its abundant solar resource.  “The project will add to a diversified energy mix, reduced costs and decarbonisation in the Southern African Power Pool. Emesco is developing its pipeline of similar-sized projects to provide renewable energy to support the green hydrogen initiative in Namibia and further expansion in the SAPP region.”

“Emesco has developed a significant pipeline of projects that includes solar, wind and storage technologies to be rolled out in Namibia with further expansion into the SADC region planned in the near future,” Rossouw concluded.

By the numbers:

  • The DC nameplate capacity of the plant is 125MW which will result in 116MW AC Net generation for export;
  • Over the 25-year life of the plant, 7,898,064MWh will be produced resulting in the mitigation of 7 796 179 t CO2; and
  • The estimated project cost is $105 million.

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