Powerful potential

Baitshepi Sekgweng
A NEW DAWN: Power supply is set for a spark

Botswana targets 1GW of Green Energy by 2030

Power shortages are a real problem throughout Southern Africa, an age-old dilemma Botswana and Morupule B Power Plant know all too well.

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However, despite our own struggles, the country’s leaders believe they can turn the story around, first ensuring self-sufficiency and then establishing BW as a net exporter of power to the region.

They are big, bright dreams that Deputy Permanent Secretary (Energy) in the Ministry of Minerals and Energy, Nchena Mothebe, is adamant can be achieved within the next seven years.

To spark this into reality, the PS wants Botswana to be generating 1 Gigawatt (GW) of its power from renewable energy sources.

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Currently, solar makes up just 1 percent of Botswana’s power production, with coal contributing 83 percent and diesel completing the final 16 percent.

By 2030, the plan is for solar to have increased its footprint to 31 percent, with wind blowing in 4 percent, coal bed methane creating 1 percent and coal reduced to 64 percent.

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Speaking at the Southern African Power Pool regional energy stakeholders meeting and market Roadshow last week, Mothebe described the energy sector as a growing industry with tremendous potential.

“We have abundant coal reserves – 212 billion tones – but we are fully aware of the implications of its use hence our ambition to fast track our renewable energy plan. We don’t have much wind but there are certain areas in northern Botswana where we could have 100MW of wind energy,” explained Mothebe, adding that though Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) recently signed a 300MW power purchase agreement deal with Jindal Power, they are considering the base load.

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A key component in power generation, base load is the minimum amount of power needed to be supplied to the electrical grid at any given time.

“Some countries use hydro electric power and gas for base load; as Botswana we don’t have those resources but only coal and solar. Hence we need a base load since our economy runs on minerals – you can’t run mines using solar PV as base load therefore 1GW has to be put in place to reduce our green house emissions,” explained Mothebe.

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With the Southern African region’s power deficits estimated at around 10GW, generation shortages and lack of transmission network has been seen as the main challenges in taking power to people.

“For areas where people have power they are not able to transmit to other areas due to lack of transmission infrastructure. There is plenty of power in Mozambique but challenge is taking that power to other places. For Botswana to be self sufficient and export power can only be realistic and achievable if we have a good transmission network,” continued Mothebe, blaming projects which have been in the pipeline for years but are progressing at a snail’s pace.

Initiatives lagging behind include: Botswana-South Africa Connector, a 300km line that links both countries; Botswana-Namibia 400kv line which will allow BW to export or import power from the western side of the country; the ZIZABONA project, a collaborative effort by Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia to have their infrastructure linked up together.

“We are engaging Eskom to find a proper funding model for the project we will do with them. With Namibia, it is at an infancy stage but it’s on the cards. The good thing is that we have already built some infrastructure all the way to Maun which is a good start. With the ZIZABONA it’s been on the horizon for too long; on our side we are floating a tender for phase II of transmission line of 400k which will run from Selibe Phikwe to Pandamatenga and Kasane areas to support agricultural activities in the place and supply power to all villages which have been getting power through cross border markets from Zambia and Zimbabwe,” added Mothebe.

One of the advanced projects of improving transmission in Botswana is the P1.2 billion 220kv line which will connect Kgalagadi region to the national grid. With the project at design, assessment and planning phase, it will connect from either Thamaga or Rakola sub stations via Jwaneng, Sekoma and Werda with a construction period of three years.

According to Senior Engineer Electricity Trading at BPC, Ogaufi Mokgethi, Botswana’s total electricity imports from April to September stood at 26GW while exports reached 156GW. In July, at the height of winter, daily power demand stood at 678MW.

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