Vice president Nangolo Mbumba on Thursday inaugurated the N$120 million 5MW Trekkopje Solar Project at Orano's Trekkopje Mine.
The plant is about 50 kilometres from Swakopmund within the Trekkopje mining area, and is located close to the substation directly feeding the mine and Orano's desalination plant near Wlotzkasbaken.
The project is owned by Sertum Energy Namibia, which is a Namibian registered independent power producer, and has a development capacity of 27MW, of which 5MW is now commissioned. Sertum Energy Namibia is a partnership between young Namibian businessman Elton Katangolo and Italian-listed company Enertronica SpA, which specialises in the development and construction of solar plants around the world.
Sertum Energy signed a 25-year power purchase agreement with NamPower as part of the feed-in-tariff programme.
During the inauguration ceremony, Mbumba said that renewable energy is the fuel of the future and has a positive and significant impact on the growth of any economy.
He said the fact that private-public partnerships are able to produce electricity in the desert for national utilisation shows the government's seriousness about harnessing renewable energy.
"This demonstrates our unwavering commitment to supporting renewable energy technologies and private players' participation in the national energy sector," he said.
Deputy minister of mines and energy Kornelia Shilunga said that through the establishment of such solar projects, Namibia was "slowly but surely" becoming less dependent on importing electricity from the Southern African Power Pool (which includes South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia). Namibia currently imports about 60% of its electricity.
According to her, Namibia's renewable power supply capacity thanks to various system across the country has grown to approximately 35% of Namibia's total electricity production and about 12% of Namibia's maximum demand.
She also referred to the recent Cabinet-approved modified single buyer (MSB) model introduced by the Electricity Control Board. This allows transmission electricity consumers and independent power producers to transact with each other directly for the supply of electricity. Transmission customers will now also be able to buy a portion (up to 30%) of their energy requirements directly from a private generator.
"The MSB enables the development of plants specifically for export purposes, thereby allowing the development of these kinds of projects for supply to our neighbours and the Southern African Power Pool," she said.