Darkness in the cold

Baitshepi Sekgweng
WE'RE ON IT: Kgoboko

The current rotational load shedding by Botswana Power Corporation(BPC) is expected to continue to at least end of this week (Thursday) .

The whole country was hit out by total blackout on Monday following what BPC termed as a possible fault line in the Phokojwe-Matimba 400kv Transmission Line therefore leading to a disturbance in the grid.

The Phokojwe-Matimba is the main line which links Botswana grid with that of South African Power utility ESKOM for imports.

The system disturbance as a result led to loss of power generation at both Morupule A and B power stations in Palapye.

While attempts have been made to feed the nation with power from the emergency Matshelagabedi (50WM)and Orapa (90MW) diesel powered generators, that has not been enough as the two units together with the restored parts of Morupule A and B remain overwhelmed by the local demand.

Speaking at a press briefing on Tuesday, BPC Chief executive officer David Kgoboko said they have been working around the clock to restore generation at the power station though they are yet to determine the cause of the trip to the transmission line.

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“Our preliminary investigations indicate that the disturbance was a result of a fault in the Phokojwe-Matimba line which further led to trip in our systems. Further, we have just established there were power swings on the same line which could have emanated from our neighboring grid systems or outside our own grid,” said Kgoboko.

With BPC working tirelessly to restore full power generation, two units at Morupule A has been brought back to operation.

Regarding Morupule B, unit 4 was successfully restored to 150MW power generation on Monday while unit 3 was synchronised on Tuesday morning with the expectation that it will be fully operational by end of the day.

However, unit 1 suffered a minor defect during the system disturbance therefore it is expected back online by Thursday post repairs.

With power demand ranging between 380MW and 600MW on peak, Kgoboko said they anticipate a deficit of 120MW considering the local generation which the local power station is able to produce as well as amount imported from the region(South African Power Pool, Nampower, Zesco).

While this deficit can only be dealt with by the full scale operation of Morupule A and B, BPC had to look up to Eskom for assistance on Monday when the power supply challenges hit the country.

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“Since April we have not been getting any power from the South African Power utility since they also have load shedding on their side. The only time we had to get assistance from them was on Monday when we lost our internal generation ,we relied on them to sustain us and help us to start up our grid ,”said BPC Manager for Technical Services Tebogo Thakadu adding that as of Monday, Botswana consumed 347MW from Eskom.

However, with winter season already in full swing, BPC says they expecting a power generation of 80MW from Morupule A while the B plant is expected to produce 390MW from three units.

However, the combined efforts of Matshelagabedi and Orapa diesel generators are expected to contribute between 150-170MW to augment the deficit mostly during peak hours.

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