Thursday, August 5, 2021

Batswana can farm solar energy

Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security (MMGE) Lefoko Moagi has said that the Rooftop Solar Programme (RSP) has received 68 applications.

Responding to Kanye North Member of Parliament (MP) Thapelo Letsholo, Moagi said his ministry conceived the RTSP in January 2019. 

“My ministry started developing the RSP in January 2019 as a means of creating an enabling environment for end-users who can generate their own electricity and sell the excess to the BPC,” the minister said.

The RTS will align with and operate for the duration of the National Development Plan 11 until March 2023 and upon its completion be evaluated for changes. 

“In the first 12 months, the system-wide aggregate capacity of the programme is 10 megawatts (MW). 20% which is 2 MW of the capacity is reserved for domestic consumers and 80% or 8 MW for commercial and industrial consumers,” he said. Moagi said that any approved rooftop solar projects are given an interconnection agreement and license for 15 years, which is further renewable to vend excess solar power. 

“Currently there are 68 applications that have been received between the 1st of December 2020 and the 31st of March 2021, consisting of 56 domestic and 12 business applications,” the minister said. He further stated that customers will benefit immediately upon completion of their installation.

The RTSP was launched on the 3rd of November 2020 and applications through the BPC website were opened for both commercial and industrial and domestic customers, which are BPC customers, from 30th November 2020 until the aggregate capacity limit of 10 MW is reached. Moagi said that the demand for electricity in Botswana is at 769 MW. 

Botswana has significant solar potential, as noted by the former minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism in his third national communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The semi-arid country has an estimated 3 200 hours of sunshine per year.

The government has set national electricity access target of 82% by 2016 and 100% by 2030. In 2019, electrification in urban areas stood at 75% and 57% in rural areas while the national average electrification is 62%.

David Lesolle from the University of Botswana’s Department of Environmental Science has cautioned against a hastened transition to fully harness solar energy. Lesolle said to wholly invest in solar energy would be unwise, given that the country hasn’t yet developed its own solar panels. He advised a gradual shift to renewable energy as global climate change action will lessen the costs of going green.

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