Sunday, June 23, 2024

Rolling power cuts as Morupule B’s Unit 4 malfunctions again

Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) was this week forced to institute rotational load shedding, just two weeks after a nationwide power cut.

On Thursday, BPC announced that it will implement rotational load shedding on an emergency basis to manage the forced outage on Morupule B’s Unit 4 which was caused by a boiler tube leak. The forced outage and load shedding was expected until late afternoon. However, the load shedding roiled over to Friday, forcing another statement from BPC.

The BPC said it was yet to ascertain what caused the countrywide blackout on Friday. The statement said Morupule A and B power generating units were lost during the blackout incident but are gradually being returned to service.

“This incident has caused a constraint on the country’s electricity supply which might result in rotational load shedding,” according to the BPC statement released late Friday afternoon.

In April, the state owned power supplier warned of rolling blackouts due to a breakdown at Morupule B, forcing it to operate at two units while the other two are undergoing remedial works. The third unit was put back online in early May.

The 600MW coal powered plant was commissioned in 2012, gobbling nearly P10 billion, but has never been fully functional, with only half of the four units functioning most at a time. Each unit is supposed to generate 150 MW.

Remedial works commenced in June 2019 on Unit 4, and works on the remaining three units were supposed to be completed in the first quarter of 2023. The power station performed badly in 2020/21 financial year, with an availability rate of 29 percent, down to delays in the commissioning of Unit 4.

According to BPC’s chief executive officer, David Kgoboko, during a press conference this month, Unit 3 and 4 were restored back to service, while Unit 1 had suffered a minor defect with repairs ongoing and was expected to be online last week. Unit 2 is on planned major overhauls which are scheduled to be completed at the end of July 2023. As things stand, the dependable generation capacity from Morupule A and Morupule B Power Stations is 450 megawatts and it is inadequate to meet the national electricity demand which ranges from 380 megawatts (off-peak) to 650 megawatts during peak period.

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