Moving ahead with solar power

Cities are growing and so is their energy consumption. This poses a challenge, especially for countries like Namibia, where electricity is in short supply. This is why the Southern African nation is now turning to solar power.

Under the national housing programme, 185,000 houses are to be built in Namibia by 2030, but every new building will place heavier demands on the power grid. There is a shortage of electricity in Southern Africa and power failures are frequent.

great potential…

For some time now, the government in Namibia has been setting its sights on thermal solar installations and experience so far has been promising: 60 pilot facilities have been in operation in the capital, Windhoek, since 2016 – funded by Austrian Development Cooperation and with technical know-how supplied by Austria’s AEE Institute for Sustainable Technologies and the Namibia Energy Institute.

The potential is enormous: Measurements show that the average household uses 40 to 50 per cent of its electricity for hot water alone. Solar installations can heat water directly, saving about 1,000 kWh in electricity a year.

…for urban development

Motivated by these encouraging outcomes, the government is now carrying out a solar urban development scheme in Okahandja Municipality about 60 km north of Windhoek.

In the initial stage of construction, the plan is to build about 10,000 homes and set up a vocational training campus and a business park on a plot of 1,100 hectares, which is half of the area demarcated for urban development. Every single residential building will be equipped with a thermal solar installation.

Austria as co-developer

The technical expertise again comes from the Austrian-Namibian partners. Together, they train the installation technicians and carry out quality assurance checks. Extensive measurements record solar yields and the amounts of CO2 emissions saved.

“In projects like the one in Okahandja, we are implementing our national energy policy, with a lot of help from Austria”, says John Titus, Director at the Namibian Ministry of Mines and Energy.