Solar plant at Gam risks damage

02 Jun 2016 08:20am
GAM, 02 JUN (NAMPA) – The lifespan of a solar power plant installed at Gam settlement in the Otjozondjupa Region could be shortened due to a number of challenges.
The plant is an initiative of Government as part of its rural electrification efforts. The solar plant allows for the provision of electricity to schools, a clinic and a mortuary amongst others at the settlement.
The solar power plant was finalised in October 2014 by Namibian solar power company, HopSol Africa.
The solar system operates fully automatic to satisfy a maximum demand of 200kW for 24 hours.
The plant is known to be one of the continent’s biggest off-grid solar power plants.
Minister of Mines and Energy, Obeth Kandjoze paid a visit to the plant, which is valued at N.dollars 31 million, on Friday as part of his familiarisation trip on rural electrification in the Omaheke and Otjozondjupa regions.
As part of the trip, Kandjoze was in Gobabis, Talismanus and Aminuis from 12 to 15 May. A similar trip on 26 until 28 May to Gam, Otjinene and Eiseb Block followed suit.
The minister expressed concern about the amount of dust on the solar panels caused by passing vehicles on a gravel road which passes by the plant.
“This is not good for the panels because it will cause scratches on the panels during cleaning and reduce its lifespan and efficiency,” said Kandjoze.
He urged those spearheading the plant to seek the services of a technician to frequently monitor and maintain the equipment.
The solar plant has a maximum output of 290 kilowatts of which only 60 kilowatts is currently supplied to Gam, while the remainder remains un-used as the majority of inhabitants do not have access to the service, according to a representative of the Namibia Energy Institute (NEI), Abraham Hangula, who formed part of the ministerial delegation.
During a community meeting shortly after the visit to the solar plant, inhabitants blasted the plant as ineffective as most households at Gam are yet to be electrified.
“The electricity tokens are rejected and cannot be used to buy electricity as a result of faulty electrical meters inside people’s houses,” said Chief of the Kambazembi Royal House Justice Uapimbi.
Uapimbi fumed at promises made towards the residents such as a second phase of the project which was intended to expand electrification to nearby households and villages.
“This electricity cannot be used to cook or iron and these are the primary reasons why we wanted electricity. We are not happy and we also want the electricity to be distributed to the villages,” he said.