Wednesday, September 23, 2020

“Dark days” are coming as fears of load shedding gets real

By Bonnie Modiakgotla

Botswana faces increased threats of power cuts due to combinations of several factors which include malfunctioning plants, and difficulty in sourcing power imports.

The warning bells were sounded in November when Botswana Power Corporation and its parent ministry revealed that the country’s power plants, Morupule A and Morupule B are not meeting the average national demand of 400MW, and could get worse at peak demand of 500 MW.

Dr. Stefan Schwarzfischer, BPC CEO, last month said the two units at Morupule B power station are producing 260 MW, while the other two units are not operation, both undergoing maintenance. He revealed that until all the units are up and running, the country will meet its power deficits through power imports from South Africa’s Eskom and the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP).

Around 29 percent of Botswana’s current power demand is covered by domestic coal generation, which comes from Morupule B ÔÇô which on full capacity is supposed to produce 600MW ÔÇô while the remaining 71 percent comprises of power imports from South Africa.

However, this could present a potential problem for the country, leading to potential frequent blackouts as South Africa faces its own problems. The country’s power utility, Eskom, over the weekend said load shedding could return and last throughout the year, further warning that it expects energy availability of the system will keep declining into early next year and probably only recover to current levels in six months.

Botswana and South Africa will be looking to Mozambique to meet the deficit ÔÇô although that might not be enough to stop the envisaged power cuts unless situation improves. Eskom imports power from Mozambique’s Cahora Bassa hydropower plant, which is also part of SAPP. With Eskom under pressure to import power to meet demands, it means Botswana will be on a back foot ÔÇô both in terms of imports from Eskom or Mozambique.

Meanwhile, BPC has issued tender seeking twelve Independent Power Producers (IPP) to provide mire electricity connections in the country. The tender relates to the development, financing, construction, operation and maintenance of twelve solar PV power projects.

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.