Monday, September 21, 2020

Morupole B: non-conductor of electricity to the nation

The Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Lefokho Moagi, suggests this IRP will encompass projections of future energy demand and development of the least-cost energy supply, as well as due consideration to the demographic dynamics and level of economic activity.

Whilst meeting projected energy demands, Moagi said the IRP is determined the most efficient, least-cost and environmentally friendly energy generation and supply. The development of the IRP began in January 2019 and was approved by Cabinet last month, August 2020.

Botswana’s current electricity demand stands at about 600 Megawatt (MW) which is at its maximum, and an electrical energy demand of approximately 3,290 Gigawatt Hours (GWh) for all sectors of the economy which includes industries, services and households. 

This demand is expected to increase proportionally with the country’s economic growth up to 1,445 MW, maximum demand and 8,637 GWh annual energy demand by year 2040, assuming an average Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 3.6 per cent. This current electricity demand is met through local generation and imports.

The Morupule B power station which feeds the country, on the other hand is continuing to experience perennial plant reliability challenges due to equipment and construction defects. Sunday Standard has learnt that, currently two units are in operation generating 230MW. One unit is out of service for remedial maintenance, and the completion date for the remediation is significantly delayed by the unavailability of contractor’s personnel, who could not travel from China due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, reveals Moagi.

PROGRESS ON THE NDP 11 ENERGY PROJECTS 

Morupule A Power Station 

This station was refurbished, and all the four units are now in commercial operation following the successful refurbishment of the plant which commenced in December 2015 and was completed in February 2020. The plant now delivers a consistent 104MW into the grid after the refurbishment exercise which was aimed at recovering plant degradation after 26 years of operation.

North West Transmission Grid

The North West Transmission Grid Line project is ongoing at 90 per cent completion. The project is expected to be completed by December 2020, and it will greatly enhance the reliability and security of power supply in the North Western region of the country. Furthermore, this project will reduce reliance on expensive diesel power generation which is currently the major energy source for mining companies in the region. Reinforcement of bulk supply points in the southern part of the country is progressing satisfactorily well with Rakola and Gaphatshwa bulk supply projects having been commissioned in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Work is in progress to construct three other new transmission sub-stations in Mochudi, Tlokweng and Ramotswa, which are planned for completion, some in 2020 and some in 2021.

Village Electrification 

As part of the rural Village Electrification Programme, 402 villages out of a total of 492 gazetted villages were electrified. This brings the level of rural electrification to 82 per cent in 2018/19. A further 43 new villages were electrified in 2019/2020, as well as network extensions in 72 villages, bringing the level of rural electrification to just over 90 per cent. Furthermore, a decision was taken not to ‘skip’ any villages enroute to those on the original plan, and further to include production centres like fields and farms going forward. 

Household Access 

As per the Statistics Botswana Survey of 2015/16, the total number of households with access to electricity in the country was 598,909. Out of these, 363,471 households are connected to the network bringing the electrification level to 61 per cent.

Doing Business 

Through the Botswana Power Corporation, the Energy ministry has been implementing initiatives to address concerns raised by the Global Competitiveness Report, in particular getting electricity. Indications are that, BPC has put in place initiatives to improve the turnaround times for issuing quotations by the adopted instant quotation method, and pre-qualifying citizen contractors and consultants to expedite the connection process. As for commercial customers, BPC is said to be working on reducing the burden to small businesses by reviewing the security requirements and making it optional for large businesses to procure construction materials in line with the BPC standards. In addition, BPC is also aggressively pursuing the use of locally manufactured products such as cables, transformers and concrete poles as part of the Economic Diversification Drive (EDD) initiatives.

STRATEGIES FOR THE REMAINDER OF NDP 11 

In implementing the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), the seven year projects which will meet the growing energy demand are amongst others:  (a) Implementation of a 100MW Solar Photovoltaic Plants and a total of 35 MV grid tied Solar Photovoltaic by 2022. These projects which are currently under procurement, will be implemented through Independent Power Producers (IPPs); (b) A 10MW Coal Bed Methane (CBM) plant which is currently under procurement, is planned to be operational by the year 2025; (c) A 200MW Concentrated Solar Plant (CSP) is planned to be operational by the year 2026. Procurement is expected to start early 2021; (d) Procurement of a 300MW Coal plant is underway. The plant is anticipated to be operational by the year 2026.  

Sunday Standard is also informed that, the ministry has developed Solar Rooftop Guidelines for residential and commercial sectors to encourage private sector participation in the development of Green Technology infrastructure. These will be launched in September 2020. Initially, the program will be capped at 10MW and will be reviewed in the subsequent years.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper

Sunday Standard September 20 – 26

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 20 - 26, 2020.