A decade of solar plants at Tsumkwe, Gam

03 May 2021 | Ekonomie
TSUMKWE – The 10-year-old Tsumkwe and Gam solar plants continue to provide reliable electricity supply to the settlements of nearly 6 000 people.

The two solar plants were constructed 10 years ago in a joint funding effort of the ministry of mines and energy, European Union, NamPower, the Otjozondjupa regional council and the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia (DRFN).

The plants after completion were placed under the custodianship of the Central North Regional Electricity Distributor (Cenored).

The caretaker of the plants, Jimmy Itamba, told Nampa in an interview on Saturday that there are nearly 3 000 solar panels, and 1 000 solar batteries at both Tsumkwe and Gam.

He said it is therefore a challenge to look after a massive solar field like these as they require dusting and washing on a regular basis, because if not, their capacity to generate electricity becomes weaker.

“Therefore they are still effective and going stronger because we dust and wash them every three months with the recommended chemicals,” he said.

Itamba said the 10-year-old solar panels can still go without defects for the next 12 years if the care continues.

CENORED

Cenored Public Relations Officer (PRO), Charlie Matengu, said the Gam and Tsumkwe solar panels are also still going strong as they only operate during the day when there is enough sunshine, while at night the batteries also pick up to transmit the stored electricity.

“The solar panels at both sites are further backed up with diesel generators that produce power in case there is a technical problem or an accident,” he said.

Tsumkwe and Gam are 200 kilometres away from the B8 road where the national electricity grid poles are standing. Matengu said it will still take years for the areas to be connected to the power lines as it is an expensive exercise.

The Tsumkwe solar plant was constructed at slightly under N$30 million, while the Gam project cost N$36 million.

Cenored sells electricity at the two settlements through prepaid meter systems, said Matengu. - Nampa

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