Sunday, July 25, 2021

BPC GOES FOR SOLAR PARKS AGAIN…

The country’s power utility, Botswana Power Corporation (BPC), has announced another fresh round of invitation to tender for two solar parks as part of efforts to reduce dependence on power imports from South Africa’s struggling Eskom.

The invitation issued to independent power producers requests for the development and construction of two PV plants with a combined capacity of 100 MW. According to a report from PV Magazine, BPC intends to select independent power producers for two 50 MW solar parks from which it will buy power under a long-term power purchase agreement. No further technical or financial information was revealed in the tender document, the report added.

The latest invitation to tender comes after BPC cancelled a similar tender two years back, which later became a boardroom brawl, fuelled by accusations of corrupt practices in the handling of the tender. The aftermath was suspension and resignation of key management personnel. The official version for cancelling of the project at the time emanated from project ownership, which in the nullified tender had been conceived as a joint venture with private investors. In the new exercise, investors must become 100% owners of the two plants.

As the power utility readies for solar parks, another state related company Diamond Trading Company (DTC), a 50-50 joint venture between the government and mining juggernaut De Beers, has this week also sent out invitation to tender for design, supply, installation and commissioning of a 350kW PV solar plant at its site in Gaborone.

Faced with challenges of global warming, countries have shown appetite for green technology which includes solar parks which are seen as a cleaner alternative to the fossil fuels. The preference for PV plants – besides the abundance of the sun – stems from declining costs of setting up due to new technologies that makes accessibility and scalability easier.

Meanwhile, the latest data from Statistics Botswana reveals that physical volume of electricity generated increased by 13.8 percent, from 682,380 MWH during the first quarter of 2018 to 776,653 MWH during the first quarter of the year. These increases were largely attributed to improved performance of the Morupule B Power Station with a view to meet the country’s electricity demand.

The physical volume of imported electricity decreased by 31.8 percent (88, 205 MWH), from 277,270 MWH during the first quarter of 2018 to 189,065 MWH during the current quarter. This decrease is attributed to improved local generation, particularly at Morupule B Power Plant, to meet domestic demand, as well as ongoing efforts to reduce reliance on imports. The Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) was the main source of imported electricity at 48.2 percent of total electricity imports. The remaining 35.9, 12.0 and 3.9 percent were sourced from Eskom, cross boarder markets and Nam Power respectively.

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