Saturday, May 28, 2022

Swedish solar company bids to address Botswana’s power shortage

Swedish solar panel manufacturing giant SweModule’s local partner Pandion Solar says it is ready to address Botswana’s dire power outages and a call for an alternative power supplier.

But they are still left with settling the pending tariff legislation negotiations with government.

Pandion Solar was registered as a company in Botswana in 2012 with four shareholders, two Batswana and two Swedish shareholders. Since then government has been playing them a ‘waiting game’ on tariff agreement negotiations.

Pandion Solar Director Precious Hule told Sunday Standard that negotiations with government are expected to start around June this year.

“We expect to engage with government on issues of whether we can be off-grid electricity supplier or be a feed in tariff,” said Hule.

However when contacted for comment, senior officials at the Department of Energy said the name Pandion Solar does not ring any bells to them.

The Director at the Department of Energy under Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water resources Kenneth Kerekang said he does not know anything about Pandion Solar.

However Hule maintains that her company has been negotiating with government ever since its existence in 2012. She was surprised that senior government officials claim not to know her company.

Asked why Pandion Solar chose to reside in Botswana out of many SADC countries, Mogwe said the company was established to address shortage of electricity in Southern Africa, and this country was chosen to be the headquarters as she is centrally located in the region.

“Pandion Solar could not have come at the right time as currently government is experiencing power shortages. We have come to work together with the government of Botswana and other countries as well,” said Robby Mogwe, Pandion Solar’s Marketing and Technical Manager.

Mogwe said Pandion Solar will market the solar panels to SADC countries. He said after the SweModules are produced by SweModule in Sweden, they will be imported to the region via in Botswana.

Mogwe added that the SweModule project will also create jobs for locals.

“Depending on the success on the market, a solar panel factory will be established in two to three years from commencing,” said Mogwe.

He said this factory will have approximately 15 employees and create jobs for approximately 15 more sub contractors.  Mogwe said the number of Botswana employed in the solar panel manufacturing plant will increase with the growth of the factory.

Local Environmental Activist, Florah Mmereki, said the coming of Pandion Solar could be a good development for environmental sustainability. Mmereki said she encourages the use of solar as a renewable energy.

Mmereki said unlike using coal, solar energy generation does not emit any environment unfriendly gases.

But she was worried about the lack of maintenance of solar energy systems by some foreign companies.

Mmereki said in the past some companies came with solar systems which are not compatible with electrical appliances of the locals, especially the rural poor.

She said some of these companies fail to maintain their solar systems and end up dumping them on Batswana.

“For example one company did its solar panel project at Kgope village. After the project failed the solar panels were dumped by the company on Batswana…this is not good at all,” said Mmereki.

Pandion Solar Marketing and Technical Manager Robby Mogwe told Sunday Standard that the SweModule solar panels are ranked number one in the world according to the Proton test.

He said the SweModule solar panels are used by most European countries and are said to be durable. The solar set can cost close to P14 000.

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