Driving e-mobility in Namibia: UNDP launches Electric Vehicles project

October 4, 2019

One of the electric vehicles as part of the project launched.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Namibia in collaboration with UNICEF Namibia officially launched the Vehicle-Grid-Integration (VGI) and Electric Vehicle (EV) project at its United Nations House in Windhoek today.

According to Ms Alka Bhatia, UNDP Namibia Resident Representative, this historic event is the first of its kind in Africa. She recalls that “the talks for this project started in 2016 and I am happy that we are finally ready to showcase this project and these EVs to Namibia and the world.” This pilot project is the first installation of VGI technology in Namibia, and the first at a UN compound in Africa, standing to demonstrate the solution to internal and external stakeholders, with the aim to trigger widespread adoption of EVs across the country. 

Joining the ceremony remotely from Copenhagen, Denmark, Mr. Gerald Demeules, Global ICT Advisor at the UNDP Office of Information Management and Technology (OIMT) said during his speech: “Many people are accelerating the shift from ICE [internal combustion engine] to EVs because green e-mobility is profitable. Profitable because EVs offer more value by offering the grid operator to store energy: a buy-low, sell-high dynamic. This marks enormous strides with incredible potential in reducing CO2 [emissions] and inspiring many more to follow suit”.

With this project UNDP aims to ensure business continuity, decrease dependency on externally and diesel-power based sources, lower costs of EVs ownership, manage electricity charges, increase energy efficiency, facilitate environmental responsibility and pilot emergency response services with EV.

In 2017 UN House Namibia adopted solar power by installing a 104kWp solar photovoltaic system, which was combined with electric vehicles connected via bi-directional power charger earlier this year. In this project, the set-up will provide energy backup, load shifting, peak shaving and emergency power supply functionalities for the UN House Namibia compound. 

The solar energy produced is primarily used to serve the UN compound needs with excess solar power produced used to charge the EVs when they are connected to the charging stations. In the evening, EVs serve as power sources replacing more expensive energy from the grid (energy shifting). When grid power goes down, whether due to infrequent wide-scale grid outages or more frequent outages caused by local disruptions, the EVs can be used as a backup power supply to power the primary appliances like lighting, communication equipment and, if possible, lower priority functions like refrigeration or limited air-conditioning. Two underground parking slots have been identified for the project, where charging stations were installed last year.

One of the electric car charging stations installed at the UN House