Monday, October 26, 2020

Another three-year wait for Morupule B

The national power plant, Morupule B will need atleast two or three more years before it could work at full capacity, BPC Chief Executive Jacob Raleru said Thursday.

While the BPC seeks to engage in a long term strategy that will culminate in a complete redesign of the four units of the Palapye based power plant, it will in the meantime implement interim measures meant to minimise risk of ‘failure’ of the plant’s boilers. Raleru revealed that by June, the Corporation will kick start the interim measure exercise with unit three, followed by the other three units in due course. The Morupile B power plant consists of four units all capable of producing 150 MW individually and 600 MW collectively. However, the Corporation has admitted that at the moment only two units are operational though they are not producing power at full capacity.

The long awaited coal fired power station, which was meant to resolve Botswana’s power woes and set BPC as the ultimate power producer in the region, continues to falter as a result of problems associated with the boiler system. This has plunged the country into a crippling power deficit that has stagnated economic growth and disrupted the lives of citizens over the last four years. Botswana’s power problems are historical, as government has over the years underpinned its power supplies on cheap imports and failed to expand the capacity of Morupule and other independent power producers, though it was endowed with excess coal resources.

As is stands, the country continues to pay the price for the collapse of the P11 billion Morupule B power project which was initially scheduled to be fully operational by 2012. The crisis has been made worse by South Africa’s reluctance to strike a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with CIC Energy, which was developing Mmamabula energy complex for both export and domestic use a few years back. Meanwhile after purchasing the 70 MW Matshelagabedi diesel power plant, BPC says it will build an additional 35 MW plant there.

The Corporation has been renting the plant from an Independent Power Producer, APR energy since 2009 under a five-year contract. In addition, the Minister responsible for Energy Kitso Mokaila said Thursday that the diesel powered plant together with another 90 MW plant located in Orapa have played a critical role in alleviating electricity shortages. Mokaila said as part of efforts to secure adequate power, BPC is also currently running tenders for the extension of Morupule B power station by a further 300 MW while Morupule A is expected back on the national grid next year with a additional supply of 90MW.

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