01.09.2017 11:04 Age: 170 days

NamPower makes coastal power lines bird-friendly

NamPower’s two 132 kV Kuiseb – Walvis Bay power lines that feed the town of Walvis Bay from the Kuiseb substation, were replaced with double steel monopole structures in June 2015 in an effort to support increased electricity demand as a result of increased economic activity in the Erongo region.

A 3.9 km section of this Kuiseb – Walvis Bay power line route runs past an area known as Bird Paradise, located east of Walvis Bay. Walvis Bay is rich in birdlife, with several Important Bird Areas (IBAs). The Walvis Bay wetlands (Lagoon) is regarded as one of the most important coastal wetlands in the southern Sub-Sahara region and in Africa and is declared as a Ramsar site.

Concerns were being raised about the potential impacts of power lines on Namibia's birdlife such as raptors, bustards, flamingos and other wetland birds. At the same time, outages caused by birds nesting on power line structures may cause fires and may result in power outages. NamPower and the Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF) therefore formed a strategic partnership in 2008 with the overall aim of addressing wildlife-power supply interactions in Namibia. The partnership was further aimed at incorporating bird/wildlife mitigation measures into existing power supply infrastructure and into the planning of future networks in order to reduce the impact that the power infrastructure has on birds, and vice versa.

As part of the mitigation measures, NamPower installed bird diverters on two unmarked sections of the two 132 kV Kuiseb – Walvis Bay line on 25 June 2017.  Additional parts of the lines had been marked previously during construction, as part of standard Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) practice. The marked and unmarked sections have been monitored to test the effectiveness of the mitigation measures, and the results so far have been positive.

NamPower has used a combination of marking devices, namely alternating double loop (spiral) bird flight diverters and “flag“ bird flight diverters, to make lines more visible to birds. A “flag” bird flight diverter is a device with contrasting black and white components that move with the wind, increasing visibility under poor light conditions. In addition, the white parts are phosphorescent, and glow in the dark.

Speaking at the installation, NNF thanked NamPower for the additional marking of the Kuiseb - Walvis Bay line. “NamPower’s concern and commitment to addressing the impacts of wildlife and power line interactions is much appreciated. We look forward to continued monitoring, with positive results.”