Morupule B roars back to life but....

01 Jul 2019

BY BONNIE MODIAKGOTLA

Locally produced electricity continues to improve as the troubled Morupule B stabilised, contributing positively to power generation and lower power imports, Statistics Botswana data released on Friday shows.

The electricity and generation report for 2019 first quarter reveals that the index of Electricity Generation - a key indicator of electricity generation - stood at 184.8 in the first quarter of the year, up 13.8 percent from 2018’s first quarter. Based on observed long trend, local power generation has been growing steadily over time, and more importantly, a significant increase was recorded during the quarter under review, the data agency said.

Local power generation was 776,653 MWH in the first three months of the year, an increase from the 682,380 MWH generated in last year’s first quarter. The increase has been attributed to operational improvements at the 600 MW Morupule B Power Station, the country’s biggest power generator powered by four units.

With domestic power generation up, the country was able to cut on power imports. The physical volume of imported electricity in the first quarter was 189,065 MWH, a decrease of 31.8 percent from 2018’s corresponding period under review. Data from Statistics Botswana reveals that importation of electricity depicts a rather decreasing trend in the last three years.

Most of the imported electricity was sourced from Southern African Power pool (48.2 percent), cross border markets supplied 12 percent, while the rest came from South Africa’s Eskom (35.9 percent) and Namibia Power Corporation (3.9 percent).

Distributed electricity – made up of domestic and imported power – slightly increased to 965,718 MWH in the first quarter of the year, up by 0.6 percent from 2018’s first quarter. Electricity generated locally contributed 80.4 percent to distribution, compared to 71.1 percent recorded in the comparable period last year.

In 2017, the power utility firm revealed that it was constantly upgrading its power generation plants to ensure they operate efficiently and sustainably. BPC’s two main power stations, the 132MW Morupule A and Morupule B have been undergoing remedial works. The multi-billion pula Morupule B power plant has been fraught with problems since it was commissioned and yet to operate at full capacity. However, BPC says it has stabilized the plant to operate with 70 percent reliability.

Meanwhile this week the country’s power utility Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) warned that the nation’s electricity demand is increasing due to the low winter temperatures, a development made even more precarious by the “country’s supply – demand balance that remains tight, with little reserve margins,” BPC said in a statement.

“In order to meet the expected winter peak demand of up to 600 MW, the corporation wishes to advise its valued customers to observe and practice efficient use of electricity, in order to prevent over-loading the electricity supply system, which might lead to shortage of power.”