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A licence was granted to investors for the erection of a large wind-power project that could eventually generate 25 per cent of Namibia's electricity supply.
The Electricity Control Board (ECB) handed the licence over to Aeolus Power Generation Namibia, a joint venture between Dutch businessman Leo van Gastel and a Namibian partner, the United Africa Group.
Both hold a 40 per cent stake in the venture and the remaining 20 per cent is reserved for future employees.
The mother company, Aeolus Associated, is registered in Luxembourg.
Van Gastel intends to inject nearly N$1 billion into the establishment of a large wind park that will generate 92 megawatt (MW) of electricity, roughly a quarter of Namibia's energy needs of approximately 400 MW.
The proposed investment of 99 million euros (about N$1 billion) provides for 102 wind turbines to be erected outside Luederitz, Oranjemund, Swakopmund, Henties Bay and Walvis Bay.
The intention is to sell the electricity thus generated to NamPower to be fed into the national power grid.
The cost of generation is estimated to be N$0,25 per kilowatt hour (KWh) and Aeolus intends to sell electricity to NamPower at N$0,35 per KWh.
"The Government intends to make Namibia self-sufficient regarding its electricity supply by 2010," said Mines and Energy Minster Erkki Nghimtina at the occasion yesterday, while ECB boss Dr Sisehu Simasiku noted that the energy sector in Namibia was a good investment opportunity for the private sector.
The first wind turbine will be installed by October this year.
"The turbines are manufactured in The Netherlands and will be assembled locally," Van Gastel said yesterday.
"They will be 75 metres high each."
Asked if the national electricity grid required upgrading to take up the electricity generated from the wind parks, Van Gastel said it was not necessary.
"The Dutch government will provide a grant of N$300 million, the rest of the funds needed will be funded through equity and loans," the Dutch businessman said.
"There are no conditions attached to the grant and the Namibian Government is not required to guarantee the Dutch grant."
According to Van Gastel, about 1 500 jobs will eventually be created in the wind-power industry, as turbines could be exported to other countries at a later stage.
The Dutch investor had previously partnered with energy consultant Michael Heita under the name Aeolus Green Energy Namibia.
Their licence application was rejected due to some shortcomings.
Van Gastel was reportedly advised to seek a different local business partner, which he found in Haddis and Martha Tillahun of United Africa.
The application was resubmitted earlier this year and accepted in a surprisingly short time.
It is however only valid for a year, a comprehensive environmental study must be completed within that time and - most important of all - a power-purchasing contract with NamPower must be concluded within the 12-month time frame.
The company also plans to establish a centre of excellence in wind generation technology in Namibia, where technicians will be trained.
A previous attempt by a Dutch company to set up a wind-power project in Greece, in which Van Gastel was involved, failed because of compatibility problems with the Greek national power grid to receive the electricity generated from the wind parks.
News date: 25/04/2007