Encroacher bushes to be transformed into energy in Namibia

A large biomass power plant project in Namibia aims to reduce the use of fossil fuels, restore the savanna and boost the local economy. COWI is consultant on the project, which is funded by the European Investment Bank and EU Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund.


In the northern part of Namibia, areas the size of Germany, Austria and Switzerland combined, are being taken over by encroacher bushes and trees.

As the encroacher bushes make it hard for the husbandry to grass, this has vast consequences for the meat production and thereby also for the local level of employment.

All of this could be improved with a new biomass project that will use encroacher bush for fuel to a biomass power plant.

"To prove the concept, the local power company, NamPower, aims to construct the first 20 MW biomass power plant. But the project holds far greater potential," explains Marc Normann, Senior Market Director of COWI's Energy and Industry division.

One solution - several benefits

The National Integrated Resource Plan of Namibia foresees multiple biomass power stations in Namibia.

"In the long term, the plan is to build several biomass power plants across northern Namibia in order to restore the grassy savannas," says Normann. "This first project will only serve to prove that it is possible to harvest and supply processed woodchips to operate modern biomass power plants in Namibia."

Today, the majority of Namibia's electricity is imported and based on fossil fuels. The first biomass power plant is planned to be ready in 2020 and will lead to a reduction in CO₂-emissions.

"This project is sustainable in every sense of the word. Biomass power plants will not only contribute to solve the problem of declining husbandry: Thinning the invasive bushes and trees and setting up a production of wood chips will create a new industry in Namibia, which will also enhance employment," says Normann.

Increasing interest in sustainable biomass

The Namibian project is a great example of how biomass can be used as a lever for sustainable solutions that have a positive effect on the global climate while contributing to social and economic development in the local community.

"We're seeing increasing global interest and a will to invest in sustainable biomass projects these years, from both Danish pension providers and international financing institutions, which recognize that such investments create value for both the national and investors. It bodes well for the environment and for Danish consulting companies like COWI as well as the Danish suppliers, who are leaders in biomass technology," explains Normann.

Project ownership and financing  

NamPower, the Namibian power utility, is leading the feasibility and the development of the project. The first power plants are expected to be put into operation in 2020.

The Techno Economic as well as Environmental Studies on the project is financed by the Sustainable for All (SE4All) facility, which is part of the EU Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund, which aims to invest in regional infrastructure in Africa by combining long-term loans with grant aid from the European Commission and EU member states.

COWI's role

COWI was chosen as technical economic consultant by the European Investment Bank and NamPower on the feasibility study for the Encroacher Bush Biomass Project in Namibia. Among others, tasks include examining the biomass, identifying a suitable site, determining the size of the biomass power plant, providing bank-able models as well as assisting with tendering and procurement of the entire facility.

COWI is a leader in sustainable biomass projects and aims to secure both environmental and economic sustainability to the benefit of the local and global environment and economy as well as investors.

Get in contact

COWI employee Søren Kragh Pedersen

Søren Kragh Pedersen
Head of Group PA & PR
Communication, Denmark

Tel: +45 2025 7018