Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Biomass "bush-to-electricity" generation opportunities in Namibia

Namibia’s national power utility, NamPower, plans to conduct a prefeasibility study into the potential for as many as 20 biomass power plants fuelled using wood from invasive bush species - called "bush-to-electricity" projects. The invasive bush is accelerating desertification by encroaching on pasture land and using limited supplies of water to undermine agriculture in the vast Southern African country.

There is already one “bush-to-electricity” pilot plant operating in northern Namibia supported by a power purchase agreement (PPA) from NamPower. The terms of the PPA are not known.

In May, 20111 NamPower issued a tender notice calling on experienced organisations and individuals to prequalify to undertake the prefeasibility study which is expected to provide a roadmap for developing such power facilities.

A 2010 report by Combating Bush Encroachment for Namibia's Development notes that 26 million hectares of land have already been affected by the invasive bush.

The NamPower prefeasibility study will seek to analyse the potential for "bush-to-electricity" biomass power facilities, as well as identify possible sites and technological solutions.

This is an interesting opportunity as the "bush-to-electricity" projects serve the dual aim of providing renewable electricity and preventing further desertification of Namibia's farmland. I have been in contact with large ranchers affected by invasive bush who have already expressed interest in providing land for such projects and purchasing part of the electrical generation to power their ranches. I am also aware of one Namibian investment company actively pursuing "bush-to-electricity" projects in Namibia.

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