18 March 2013

Namibia: Environment Ministry Goes Solar

Windhoek — The Ministry of Environment and Tourism has electrified its head office in Windhoek with solar power, thanks to funding worth N$18.6 million from the German government.

The roof-mounted 212kWp (kilowatt-peak) photovoltaic solar power system converts sunlight into electric power. The panels have an annual electricity production output of some 382mWh (megawatt hours), and will save government about 210 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Environment Minister Uahekua Herunga said it was a natural move for the Ministry of Environment to showcase environmentally friendly solar energy because it provides an answer to the question of many tourists visiting the country of why Namibia does not make more use of solar power.

"The effort of the ministry is also a boost to the efforts of NamPower to add 10 percent of renewable power generation to the national electricity grid," he said, adding that it demonstrated that renewable energy systems from local suppliers could play an important role in filling the immediate power gap that might be felt during the coming winter. He said that as a daily average throughout the year, 1050 kilowatt units of clean electricity would be produced which is more than the ministerial complex requires.

"Expanding this initiative from the private level to the governmental level is believed to have a great positive impact on the challenge of environmental conservation and scarcity of resources. Such conservation is crucial to Namibia in order to achieve its long-term goal of sustainable development," the German government technical cooperation organisation Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) said in a statement.

Herunga further said the initiative demonstrated the Namibian government's commitment to the realisation of the medium-term goals of NDP4 and the long-term goals of Vision 2030, as well as the implementation of the policy on climate change as approved by Cabinet in 2010. "Our National Policy on Climate Change calls for the optimum exploitation of our renewal energy sources."

He said that if each farmer, business facility, government institution, etc. installs solar panels to produce energy, they would all certainly become energy self-sufficient. "The surplus can be fed into the main grid of NamPower. This means less imports of energy from outside Namibia, less demand from our only hydro scheme in Ruacana and more electricity for our industrial development, and of course, more access to electricity by our rural communities," he stressed.

The funding through the GIZ includes the purchase of five 4x4 trucks, three graders and two back-hoe loaders. The equipment will go towards improving and maintaining the infrastructure in national parks and game reserves such as Dorob, Namib Naukluft, Skeleton Coast, Bwabwata, Mudumu and Mamili national parks.

Herunga disclosed that the ministry has significantly increased the development budget allocation towards constructing and rehabilitating the road network in protected areas from N$800 000 in 2007/08 to N$19 million in 2012/13.

"Therefore this donation could not have come at the right time as it is going to help ensure the maintenance of the roads, cutlines and firebreaks in our protected areas, focusing on Dorob, Namib Naukluft, Skeleton Coast, Bwabwata, Mudumu and Mamili national parks," he said.

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