Showering with energy from the sun: the new built hostels of the Polytechnic of Namibia are equipped with 87 solar water heaters with a capacity of 300 litres each.
There has never been a more appropriate time for Namibian educational institutions to introduce renewable energy into their daily lives. Namibia’s electricity crisis was and still is widely discussed – so, the University of Namibia (UNAM) and the Polytechnic of Namibia sought for new ways to be more energy-efficient. As a result, they chose the NEC – Namibian Engineering Corporation for installing 87 solar water heater (SWH) systems at the Polytechnic of Namibia and 127 SWH systems at the University of Namibia.
The NEC – Namibian Engineering Corporation is a versatile engineering company, which has been working in the Namibian market for over 50 years, primarily serving the mining, energy and agricultural industry. NEC recognised early on what potential the supply and installation of SWH systems could possess and became distributor of the Australian manufacturer Solahart some years ago. NEC installed many of the major solar thermal systems, among them the ones at the UNAM and the Polytechnic of Namibia.
NEC completed installations at the Polytechnic of Namibia in 2008. The Windhoek-based university equipped their newly built hostels with 87 Solahart 302J, closed circuit systems with a capacity of 300 litres, and energy-efficient lighting, which resulted in total energy savings of 239 MWh – compared to the 131 MWh/year the planners of the installation predicted to save. Actual energy savings are therefore 34 % higher than originally forecasted.
Inspection of the solar water heaters: Since 2006, these systems supply hot water to the hostels, kitchen and laundry of the University of Namibia. Photo: Namibian Engineering Corporation
The UNAM, also based in Windhoek, possessed an obsolete heating system which had to be monitored hour after hour. The Estate Service Department made the decision to install a far more economical and energy-efficient warm water supply with solar water heaters. It then launched a public tender, which NEC won. The UNAM was equipped with 115 Solahart 302J and 12 Solahart 181J, also closed circuit systems, but with a capacity of 180 litres. The project was completed in 2006. Within two months, solar water heating systems supplied hot water to the hostels, kitchen and laundry. “The capital recoupment period is estimated to stay within two years, based on existing operating costs for hot water supply,” Niko Brückner, the director of NEC – Namibian Engineering Corporation, stated.
“In the last two years, our turnover has quadrupled. The growing importance and need for renewable energy resources and the demand for our expertise and state-of-the-art products will increase further,” says Niko Brückner. But, the number of competitors has increased as well. Within the last two years alone, the number of solar water heater suppliers in Namibia jumped from 4 to 15.
This text was written by communication specialist Hanna Schober based in South Africa. Schober_hanna@gmx.at