Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Power crisis looms as Morupule B explodes

There are rising concerns about the safety of Botswana Power Corporation (BPC)’s controversial Morupule B power plant following allegations that the plant was rocked by a blast last week after two boilers cracked. The alleged explosion result is that the power plant was generating below capacity.

It has emerged that BPC’s announcement that following a technical fault at Morupule B power supply shortage would remain constrained until end of this week was merely a public relations stunt by the corporation to play down the looming crisis.

Since take over by BPC, Morupule B power station had been operating with three units; units one, three and four, whilst the remaining unit was still under construction.

Sources revealed this week that BPC authorities underplayed the threats posed by units two and three’s boiler failures and the result is that blackouts and power shortages are expected to continue untill next year because the ongoing work to repair the boilers would not be complete by December this year.

Sunday Standard investigations have revealed that BPC should have declared an emergency after detecting that some boilers had cracked resulting in the explosion.

This week, Eskom which BPC had turned to, to augment its power supply, restricted imports after it declared an electricity supply emergency due to the loss of additional generating units from the power station fleet and the extensive use of emergency reserves.

While he denied that there was an explosion at Morupule B power plant last weekend, BPC spokesperson Spencer Moreri confirmed that units two and three are out of service for boiler repairs. He added that unit one also had an air fan bearing failure.

“The power generation from one of the two Units in service (Unit No. 1) had to be reduced from its full capacity of 150MW (Gross) to 100 (Gross) from 17:00 Hrs Monday 18th Nov 13 to 23:00 Hrs on Tuesday 19th Nov 13 on account of an air fan bearing failure. This resulted in the plant generating below capacity,” explained Moreri in his response to Sunday Standard queries.

Moreri said no common technical challenge was experienced which affected all the units.

“However, Units 2 and 3 are out of service for Boiler repairs. The repair works on these units are ongoing and it is anticipated that Unit 3 should be back in service in less than two months. Unit 2 however has a longer lead time which may go up to six months,: he said.

The country experienced shortage of power supply, Moreri said, because there were restricted imports from the South Africa who are also currently experiencing significant power supply constraints.

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