About DRFN’s Energy theme
Energy and development are closely linked, and Namibia faces big challenges in the energy sector. Conventional thinking has concentrated on large-scale generation and centralized grid extensions, both of which are now under critical review, as Namibia is loosing its bid to increase access to electricity and ensure stable electricity supply. Diverse smaller-scale alternatives can help to provide energy and to reduce the country’s overall demand.
As one of the sunniest countries on earth, solar energy is an obvious contributor to Namibia’s energy situation, yet is still severely under-utilised. Wind also has great potential, especially at the coast. In remote regions, these sources can combine with diesel generators in so-called ‘hybrid’ energy systems. Decentralized, off-grid services such as solar, wind and hybrids can help to extend the convenience and opportunities that electricity brings.
Energy from plants – biomass energy – is already a major contributor to the country’s needs through the use of firewood. While this poses problems from over-exploitation of wood, wood that is harvested in bush-encroached areas presents opportunities. For instance, Namibia’s charcoal production using invader bush is increasing, and there is potential to generate electricity in small-scale wood-gasification plants. Biofuel, particularly production of diesel from Jatropha plants, offers still more opportunities for energy farming.
Overall, greater use of renewable energy sources, diversification into alternative energy sources, and greater efficiency in the use of power, can all make Namibia’s energy consumption more sustainable. The Energy Desk is involved in realizing some of these great opportunities.