TSUMEB -Tsumeb Municipality is slowly starting to reap the benefits from its newly commissioned multi-million-dollar solar power plant project, that was set up to reduce the escalating electricity bill, which emanates from its 24-hour water pump station.
The project was established about three years ago at a cost of N$2.5 million and has a power output of 100kVA from its three solar panels. It was operational for some time, but in 2016 was decommissioned following some glitches and could not yield the desired results.
But since the plan was recommissioned four months ago, it has been fitted with advanced technology. The municipality was last month able to reduce its electricity tariff by 30 percent.
In the previous years the municipality struggled to cope with the ever-increasing monthly bill where in some instances in a month it could pay an all-high bill of N$1 million to the electricity distributor Cenored. According to the town engineer Pedro Immanuel, the town’s population has grown tremendously hence putting pressure on the use of water. “Due to this high demand the pump station is running 24 hours with no break, which means using more electricity. In addition to this we only have one localised pump station which feeds the whole town, from 10 operational boreholes, although there are 12 in total,” said Immanuel.
As a result, Immanuel said, the usage kept on increasing on a monthly basis especially during spring and summer.
“We did an upgrade on our bulk water system and did some improvement on the plant. In 2016 it looked like it was not properly installed and experienced some trips, and this happened without our knowledge,” he said, adding that they now have a real-time monitoring system to detect any faults in the system that is accessible remotely.
“So far it is working perfectly and we are still weighing to see how effective it will be,” he stated.
In addition the CEO of Tsumeb, Alfeus Benjamin, said the situation was a headache for council as there was no remedy to it despite trying several interventions such as shift pumping, but they could not work.
“We are looking at long-term solar power pumping, but this does not mean we will solely be disconnected from the Cenored grid, but we can still use it as backup,” said Benjamin. Furthermore, Immanuel said they have identified an underground aquifer within the vicinity of Tsumeb as another source of water. He said they are still in the preliminary stages of testing the water if it is fit for human consumption.
In that light, the town engineer said they envisage to construct three to five more boreholes within the next three years depending on the availability of funds.