First and foremost, the project responds to power shortages in Namibia and the region, bringing much-needed reliability and stability to the power supply system. Renewable energy is an incredibly important part of our energy future, but its instability means that it must be balanced on the power grid by mid-merit fully dispatchable power, in other words, a power station that is able to transmit a steady stream of electricity.
Namibia and the wider region are moving to increase their renewable energy sources, but the over-reliance on Eskom for dispatchable power is concerning for stability in the region.
The choice of fuel feedstock, LNG, is part of the Walvis Bay Power Plant’s focus on sustainability. All indications are that LNG will be more readily available in the next 15 years than oil or coal, and there are diverse sources of supply. Market diversity means less central regulation and better price dynamics.
As an anchor tenant in the Walvis Bay Port development and industrial zone, the power plant will enable bulk service and infrastructure development, including access roads, water supply, waste management, housing and recreational facilities.
WGP will supply natural gas to the WBPP and to other consumers.
With the support of the Walvis Bay Municipality, Xaris is developing a waste water treatment plant that will relieve the pressure on the municipality’s overburdened treatment system. There is also scope for the development of a desalination plant, using some of the excess heat generated during power production.
Reduced Environmental Impact
The Walvis Bay Power Plant uses Natural Gas - the most environmentally-friendly fossil fuel there is. The plant is designed to ensure ultra-efficient use of the fuel and minimal impact to the fragile coastal-desert environment.
The environmental impact assessment (EIA) certification issued to Xaris in February 2016 approving the building of the plant is proof of the care taken by the WBPP team to design a plant with a low environmental impact throughout its value chain, and for the full life of the plant.
Here are a few of the environmentally-friendly attributes of natural gas:
Natural gas is cleaner than coal and heavy fuel oil. On average, heavy fuel oil has a 46% higher CO2 footprint than open cycle natural gas, and significantly higher emissions of sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides.
WGP’s floating storage unit will dramatically reduce potential negative impacts on the shoreline. Escaped natural gas or LNG does not cause any marine or soil contamination.
Gas is more efficient and less carbon intensive than other fossil fuels. For example, when used for domestic cooking, the efficiency of energy use of gas is 93% compared to 28% for conventional electric cooking.
WBPP plans to make a lasting impact on the local community by investing an agreed amount of the profits in community development. This has been formalised in a shareholders’ agreement and will focus on education, infrastructure development and enterprise development.
WBPP will contribute bursaries and scholarships for tertiary studies and technical training, financial assistance towards the school fees of disadvantaged learners, maths and science programmes for learners in grades 10 to 12, and enhancements to school facilities and equipment in rural areas.
Enterprise development will entail procuring materials and equipment locally, bearing in mind that certain specialist services will not be available in the local market. We will also support existing projects geared towards enhancing small business development, especially in rural communities.
Skills Development and Transfer
WBPP has pledged to invest more than 1,5% of gross wages in skills training, both during construction and in the operation of the plant.
During construction, an estimate 400 part-time jobs will be created for electricians, welders, fitters and other technical positions. We will recruit local people wherever possible, following an implementation plan to train skilled and unskilled workers.
After construction, the project will use the operation of the plant as a skills transfer opportunity. Of the approximately 50 employees who will be needed to operate and maintain the plant, about 30 will be local recruits. They will undergo specific training to ensure efficient operation, safe working practices and the transfer of specialised technical skills relevant to natural gas-generated power.
The skills developed and used in constructing and operating the plant and the overland and undersea gas pipeline will be invaluable in developing the Kudu gas field and constructing and operating the Kudu power station.
The sum total of the different aspects of the project will produce a multiplier effect that will benefit the local economy on many levels. WBPP will bring additional money into the area and benefit services and supply businesses – and by extension their workforces and dependants – for many years to come.