Monday, June 24, 2024

BPC unable to meet national demand

Botswana Power Corporation is falling behind its projected generation capacity and is currently unable to meet the national electricity demand – it has emerged.

In its application to Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) for a tariff increase for the year 2023/23 filed last year, the power utility stated that, “the internal generation’s outlook is positive, with the 600 MW capacity MBPS currently at 530 MW. The remediated Unit 4 is on a 90-day trial period and running at 150MW.”

As at last week, however the BPC generation capacity was at 450 MW. Fielding questions in Parliament last week, the Minister of Minerals and Energy Lefoko Moagi revealed that Botswana’s generation capacity from Morupule A and Morupule B power stations at 450MW is inadequate to meet the national electricity demand which ranges from 380MW (off-peak) to 650MW (peak).

He said in the short to the medium term, power imports and or the dispatch of diesel generators are required to meet peak load.

This is a dent on BPC’s coffers. The Corporation’s profitability is largely driven by internal generation, particularly MBPS Availability Rate.

At the time BPC filed its tariff increase application to BERA, the remediated Unit 4 was on a 90-day trial period and running at 150MW.  While the unit is back in operation, indications are that there are other problems holding back the corporation’s projected performance. Minister Moagi told parliament that, “remedial works on Unit No.4, the first unit to be remedied were completed in September 2022 and the unit is back in operation. Some technical challenges were experienced in one of the boiler components and the deficiency in the design is being corrected after a root cause analysis was conducted. The remaining three units are scheduled to undergo remediation in sequence from January 2024 to May 2026, said Moagi.

Moagi told parliament that, “it should, however, be noted that during off-peak times, the internal generation is more than adequate to meet demand hence Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) exports electricity to the southern African Power Pool when supply exceeds demand. This is dependent on the performance of the Morupule B power station. BPC in this financial year 2022/23 exported electricity amounting to P113 million surpassing the record maximum of P38.5 million which was realized in 2018. This is a significant improvement of 258%,” he said.

He was answering a question by Ghanzi North Member of Parliament (MP) John Thiite. The MP had asked the Minister to appraise the House on information purporting that Botswana has adequate power supply to meet the country’s energy demand and is on the verge of exporting power to South Africa.

The Minister said the Morupule B power station is undergoing defects remediation to improve the reliability of the plant and security of the power supply for the country.

“In the long term, the Ministry is implementing the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) which entails the development of new generation projects that will contribute to a new generation mix comprising coal, solar and gas-based generation. The new generation capacity will be provided by Independent Power Producers (IPPs) selling power to BPC. It is expected that 300MW of coal based new generation will be on the grid by end of 2026 while 235MW of solar PV generation will be commissioned between 2024 and 2026,’ he said.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper