Monday, October 3, 2022

Botswana might get electricity from the sun

The Department of Energy and Minerals is currently consulting with Fichtner Solar Consultants from Germany on the possibility of installing a power station that will use solar energy to produce electricity.

The aim is for the Department of Energy to come out with a 200MW power station.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Gabaake Gabaake, said, “This project has been in our plans since 1996. We arrived at the idea of a solar power station looking at the amount of sunshine we experience in the country.”
Gabaake said that at the time when they came up with the idea, it was just for brainstorming until they decided to act on it and engage a consulting firm to help with further investigation together with the University of Botswana (UB).

At a stakeholders’ pre-feasibility study workshop held at the Gaborone International Conference Centre, the consulting firm, led by Georg Brakmann, produced the findings of their study, which showed that, indeed, Botswana is ideal for a solar power station.
Botswana experiences about 75% of sunshine throughout the year.

Brakmann identified five sites that have been identified as potentials for the power station. The sites were chosen looking at the distance from the national grid and the availability of resources required to run the plant smoothly.

The sites selected are Maun, Selibe Phikwe, Letlhakane, Serowe and Jwaneng.
Each site measures 2.6 km by 2 km and at the center of this will be the power station surrounded by the parabolic troughs, which are mirrors. The troughs will follow the sun as it moves from the east to the west, thus have access to direct sunlight all day.

These troughs were invented in Stuttgart, Germany in 1907 and used in Egypt in 1912.

Of all methods presented, the parabolic troughs appeared to be the best as the other methods are less efficient.
“In Spain, we have the same project that is not yet complete but progress is excellent,” said Brakmann.
Construction for this plant takes about three years after other studies have been completed.

In an interview with Sunday Standard, Thuso Matshameko, the chairman of the task force behind this innovation said, “We still have to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment and a bank feasibility study, which will show the total costs of implementing this project.”

Matshameko said they are now ready to move to the next level of the project as the pre-feasibility study shows that they can go ahead.

Information passed to Sunday Standard shows that an estimate for a 200MW plant is around P4 950 million and for a 50MW plant, it is P2 890 million pula.

The 200MW plant would produce 449GWh and sell the electricity at P1.31 per KWh, whereas the smaller plant will only produce 254GWh and sell at P1.48 per KWh.

Matshameko could not reveal if the project will materialize as there are many stakeholders involved and the bank-feasibility study will be the one to determine if this project is worth financing.


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