By Hilary Mare
THE establishment of the SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE) came at an opportune time, as there is diminishing electricity generation capacity in the region, Mines and Energy Minister Tom Alweendo has said.
Speaking at the launch of SACREEE last week, Alweendo noted that there are several reasons for the persistent energy crises, though at times there is surplus in other member states. “A number of issues have been raised as to the reasons but I must emphasise that the aspect of sustainability is not sufficiently considered when planning for the future.
“The over-reliance on fossil fuels, which are finite, and traditional biomass has been the status quo for many of our countries. Whilst the region’s population is growing at a fast rate, fossil fuels are not going to sustain the region, since they are not renewable.
“Therefore the business-as-usual [approach] of the expansion of existing energy systems based on fossils is not viable. Nuclear energy, despite its limited greenhouse effects is also not a viable solution for the region due to high capital costs and the waste disposal, which has to be carefully handled,” Alweendo told delegates.
Established in 2015, SACREEE was established through a consultative preparatory process, which included the execution of a needs assessment and the development of the project document on the technical and institutional design of the centre.
“It is my belief that conserving our resources wisely will ensure that energy is available on demand to all our citizens without compromising the ability of future generations to use them. Environmental concerns and the climate dimension have placed conditions that when power is produced, mitigation for emissions has to be in place, thus increasing the cost of power produced.
“The over-reliance on big dams also has its own problems due to the consistent drought and flooding that is affecting our generation of power in the region. “The region’s energy generation capacity can be sustainable. However it would require commitment through new, smart, ambitious and effective approaches.
We are all aware that the energy industry continues to change and evolve. The sector will rely on advanced technologies for reliable and innovative ways to drive the SADC Industrial Strategy and Roadmap. The citizens of the region require an energy sector that will provide reliable and affordable energy to meet their aspirations of modern and healthy lifestyles,” he said.
Namibia has taken big strides in the growth of the renewable energy industry and the involvement of Independent Power Producers (IPPs). Commendable efforts have led to 18 IPPs signing Power Purchase Agreements with NamPower to supply 170 MW of renewable energy generation projects by 2020. As at September 2018, 11 renewable energy power plants have been commissioned, contributing 55 MW to the country’s electricity supplies.
“SADC’s renewable energy resources are huge and underutilised. I believe therefore that the establishment of SACREEE will unlock this potential by providing business focussed guidance on the regional market opportunities and risks.
“Economies throughout the region need to be provided with tools, models and lessons learned to transform and strengthen their energy sector. SACREEE will ensure that sustainable growth of any renewable power business will require the analysis of the interconnected and grid integration with variable power.
“I am glad to note that the Southern African Power Pool and Regional Energy Regulatory Agency are working together with SACREEE to provide researched models for the amount of renewable energy that can be interconnected to the grid,” Alweendo emphasised.
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