Namibia exporting power to SA

NamPower, Namibia's main power utility says it is exporting power to Eskom. (Fredrik Lerneryd)

NamPower, Namibia's main power utility says it is exporting power to Eskom. (Fredrik Lerneryd)

Namibian power utility NamPower is currently exporting electricity to its South African counterpart Eskom, which is struggling to meet demand, an official said Monday.

“We are currently exporting up to 200MW of electricity to South Africa,” Werner Graupe, senior manager for energy trading at NamPower, told a Sapa correspondent on Monday. 

“The electricity comes from our Ruacana hydropower plant on the Kunene River bordering Angola. Due to the good rains experienced in the area, particularly southern Angola, the Kunene River flows strongly, sometimes at 300 cubic metres per second, driving the turbines at the power plant, and we can export up to 200MW off-peak,” Graupe said. 

Namibia usually imports roughly 60% of its power from neighbouring countries, including Eskom. During good rainy seasons in the catchment areas of the Kunene River, mainly in Angola, where the river has its source, Namibia can export electricity outside peak times, which is late at night. 

Eskom is struggling to cope with South Africa’s electricity demand due to ailing infrastructure and maintenance backlogs.

The Mail & Guardian reported that, last week during a briefing on the state of the national electricity system, Eskom’s new chief executive Tshediso Matona stressed that South Africa was in for a bumpy ride as Eskom refocuses on maintenance of its generators – rather than keeping the lights on at all costs.

The rest of the summer would be difficult, he said, and the country would have to learn to tighten its electrical belt.

The electricity crisis by numbers

193 months
The amount of time since Eskom formally warned the government, in a white paper on energy, that South Africa would run out of electricity, unless a decision on supply was taken before the end of 1999.

2003
The year in which Eskom decided to “de-mothball” power stations to deal with increasing demand.

2004
The year in which government policy officially shifted from privatised electricity generation to holding Eskom responsible for supplying the grid.

1.4%
The decrease in electricity South Africa produced in the first 11 months of 2014, compared with the 2013 period, according to Statistics SA.

18.9%
The increase in electricity imported into South Africa in the last three months for which data is available, compared with the previous year. It was not enough to stave off a year-on-year decrease in the amount of electricity available for distribution.

11-million
The estimated number of households with access to electricity, the increase in which President Jacob Zuma has blamed, on several occasions, for blackouts.
This is only 25% of the total demand.

15-million
The current rough estimate of the total number of households in South Africa.

40%
The amount of Eskom’s generating capacity used by its top 150 users, most of them mines.

900MW
The expected loss in capacity when one unit at the Koeberg nuclear plant in Cape Town shuts down in February for planned maintenance.

1 000MW
The level of loss of generating capacity Eskom says can plunge the grid into crisis at any time.

238%
The increase in breakdowns and other unplanned outages at Eskom’s generating plants between the end of 2009, when maintenance was last considered on track, and the end of 2014. – Sapa, Staff reporter.

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