The Botswana Power Corporation is stepping up gear to refurbish its ailing Morupule A Coal Fired Power station following a call for expression of interest for an Owner’s Engineer (OE) for the loss making plant.
The corporation, headed by Jacob Raleru, this week issued a tender invitation on the expression of interest for the OE to advise the state backed electricity utility on the refurbishment of the 26-year-old power facility.
The plant has been under care and maintenance, meaning strain has been put on Morupule B; a new project adjustment the old Morupule, which is having its own share of challenges.
“The government of Botswana and the BPC, through consultants, have carried out two studies on Morupule A covering a residual life assessment and refurbishment and pollution abatement with a view to restore the power plant dependable generation capacity to the design level (116MW Net) in the shortest possible time,” the corporation said in the tender notice.
Morupule A has been losing money with 2012 being the last blow as cost escalation led to the plant placed under care and maintenance for the first time since 1986. BPC and government had budgeted to spend P135.8 million last year, but the figure went up to P381.8 million.
Raleru told Sunday Standard in December that the power plant has been unreliable over the year.
“What it means is that Morupule A is not generating into the grid. We did the numbers and found it is costly and unreliable”.
“It was breaking continually and we decided to take it out of the grid,” he added.
Previous studies conducted by Japanese experts revealed Morupule A could be refurbished at $US 150 million (about P1.2 billion), which will be difficult for the government that is struggling to balance the budget.
The Owner’s Engineer will provide technical assistance to BPC to undertake the required refurbishment works at the power station.
The power supply difficulties are expected to worsen this year after Eskom contract to BPC ended leaving Botswana with a huge shortfall to fill up.
BPC is faced with the task of finding 100 MW power imports from 2013-2013 that will be sourced from the region; with Eskom, Mozambique and DRC in mind.
Morupule B was expected to have been completed in December 2012, but there have been problems during the commissioning period meaning the deadline is now extended to May.
BPC is expected to face difficulties until winter when the new project is completed and is banking on other plants including the Orapa 90 MW turbine power plant, which is in service and rented 20 MW plant which is expected to come on stream in 2013.