Text & photographs by Jana-Mari Smith
Nampower today inaugurated their second Solar PV system – a sea of solar panels on the rooftop of NamPower’s National Control Building, which is another case of “walking the walk” and not just talking the talk when it comes to renewable energy resources best practice in Namibia.
By focusing on increasing their off-grid energy sourcing, NamPower is adding to Namibia’s reputation as a country focused on sustainability – when it comes to tourism, environment and even business.
The project was installed by Namibia Engineering Corporation (NEC).
Construction began in July and the project was commissioned at the start of August – a tricky endeavor, which included the use of a crane to hoist materials to the 8th floor roof top of the building.
Overall, 438 panels were installed in less than three weeks and freestanding positions were chosen to optimise output. According to Joring von Gossler, NEC project manager, the panels cover an area of 730 square metres – most of which are spread across the NamPower Control buildings pebble strewn roof top. He added that moving off grid for energy, significantly reduces the carbon footprint of a building.
Paulinus Shilamba, the Managing Director of NamPower today emphasised NamPower’s commitment to renewable energy resources. “I will say this is our second solar project (the first Solar PV system was inaugurated in 2012), but it will certainly not be our last”.
Shilamba said the 103kW PV grid-connected system provides up to 14 600 kilowatt-hours of energy per month, which will is sufficient to complement the monthly energy needs of he National Control building – the building in which all of NamPower’s tech savvy whiz-kids hang out. Shilamba praised the IT department at NamPower who “went beyond their normal call of duty when they motivated the idea of powering this building through solar – first to harvest the free energy of the sun for the systems that run around the clock, seven days a week and secondly to reduce energy costs”.
The system, which cost NamPower a little over N$2 million, is able to reduce NamPower’s daily energy consumption by up to 35% – which will off-set the daily energy requirements of the National Control building and reduce overall demand from the supply provided by the City of Windhoek.
Shilamba said this endevour is a clear sign that Nampower is not preaching the message of energy savings to its diverse stakeholders, bu that we are also walking the talk and leading by example”. He added that while the focus at national level is to implement large scale generation projects to address the power supply shortage in Namibia “small scale renewable energy projects such as this one are contributing, albeit at a small scale, in taking off pressure from the national electricity grid?”
NamPower, through its Renewable Energy Policy, aims to have 10 percent of the installed generation capacity to be sourced from renewable energy at any given time. While this remains a challenge due to multiple factors, the company’s latest renewable solar energy resource, is a sure sign that NamPower is keen to walk the walk.
WHAT IS A SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC (PV) SYSTEM?
A photovoltaic system, also photovolatic power system, solar PV system, PV system or casually solar array, is a power system designed to supply usable solar power by means of photovoltaics. It consists of an arrangement of several components, including solar panels to absorb and directly convert sunlight into electricity, a solar inverter to change the electrical current from DC to AC, as well as mounting, cabling and other electrical accessories to set-up a working system.
Strictly speaking, a solar array only encompasses the ensemble of solar panels, the visible part of the PV system, and does not include all the other hardware, often summarized as balance of system (BOS).
PV systems range from small, roof-top mounted or building-integrated systems with capacities from a few to several tens of kilowatts, to large utility-scale power stations of hundreds of megawatts. Nowadays, most PV systems are connected to the electrical grid, while stand-alone or off-grid systems only account for a small portion of the market.
Operating silently and without any moving parts or environmental emissions, PV systems have developed into a mature technology, that has been used for fifty years in specialized applications, and grid-connected systems have been operating for over twenty years.
AND WHAT IS PHOTOVOLTAICS?
Photovoltaics (PV) is a method of generating electrical power by converting sunlight into direct current electricity using semiconducting materials that exhibit the photovoltaic effect.
A photovoltaic system employs solar panels composed of a number of solar cells to supply usable solar power.
Power generation from solar PV has long been seen as a clean sustainable energy technology which draws upon the planet’s most plentiful and widely distributed renewable energy source – the sun.
The direct conversion of sunlight to electricity occurs without any moving parts or environmental emissions during operation. It is well proven, as photovoltaic systems have now been used for fifty years in specialized applications, and grid-connected PV systems have been in use for over twenty years.