Latest data from Statistics Botswana shows that domestic electricity generation has declined in the first quarter of the year, continuing the downward trend that existed in the last quarter of 2017.
The index of Electricity Generation, a key indicator of electricity generation, stood at 162.3 in the first three months of the year, reflecting 2.3 percent from 2017’s first quarter. The decline was much steeper in comparison to the last quarter of 2017, showing a decline of 9.4 percent.
The decreases have been attributed to operational challenges encountered at the Morupule B Power Station. Despite the operational challenges during the first quarter of 2018, Morupule B Power Station accounted for 98.1 percent of electricity generated locally, followed by Morupule A at 1.4 percent and Matshelagabedi Emergency Power Plant at 0.5 percent. The Orapa Emergency Power plant was not in operation during the period under review.
In the first quarter of the year, locally generated electricity was responsible for 71 percent of total distribution, leaving the shortage to be met through importation. The volume of imported electricity rose substantially by 46.7 percent in the first quarter. Compared to the previous quarter, imported electricity was up 29.5 percent. Through Botswana Power Corporation, the state run power utility company imported 28.9 percent of total electricity distributed during the period under review. Most of the imported electricity was sourced from Southern African Power pool (85.2 percent), South Africa’s Eskom (12.4 percent) and Namibia Power Corporation (2.5 percent).
According to Statistics Botswana, in general importation was steadily decreasing during the period under review. “However, whenever there are operational challenges leading to reduction in production, importation is increased to supplement local production so that distribution is not adversely affected. This is evident in increased importation during the last quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018,” read part of the analysis.
Last year the power utility firm revealed that it is constantly upgrading its power generation plants to ensure they operate efficiently and sustainably. BPC’s two main power stations, the 132MW Morupule A and the 600 MW Morupule B have been undergoing remedial works. The multi-billion pula Morupule B power plant has been fraught with problems since it was commissioned and yet to operate at full capacity. However BPC says it has stabilized the plant to operate with 70 percent reliability.
Due to improvements made at Morupule B, the power utility managed to reduce its power purchase to P1.51 billion, a huge reduction of 23 percent from 2016’s P1.96 billion.
Meanwhile, GE Power’s Grid Solution business on Thursday announced that it has signed its first contract with BPC on May 24, 2018. The contract includes the design, supply, installation, testing and commissioning of a SCADA/Energy Management system at the principal grid control centres in BPC headquarters in Gaborone and the back-up control centre in Francistown.
At the contract signing ceremony, Dr. Stefan Schwarzfischer, BPC’s Chief Executive Officer said, “The functionalities of this platform will improve customer services by leveraging our existing customer call system, reduce down-time, improve revenue collection as well as overall customer satisfaction. Once the project is completed, BPC will benefit from a single platform for both Gaborone and Francistown.”
With about 70 percent of the country’s population having access to electricity, Botswana is currently focused on the digital transformation of its grid network to enhance reliable access for its people.
“GE technology will bring reliable, efficient and sustainable electricity, using cutting edge digital solutions while powering the country forward,” said Lazarus Angbazo, CEO, GE Grid Solutions, Sub-Saharan Africa.
“This project marks the beginning of a rewarding partnership with BPC, reinforces GE’s commitment to support the government of Botswana in its digital transformation process and will further expand GE’s leadership on the Energy Management Systems market in Southern Africa where more than 50 percent of the Transmission utilities are relying on GE’s Advanced Energy Management System (EMS) Solution Platform to operate their networks.”