Landmark solar power station due for construction (Botswana)


The 1.11 billion yen (P87.3 million) power station will be built by Japanese contractors at the Japanese government’s expense, before being handed over to the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) to manage and maintain.
The facility is expected to become sub-Saharan Africa’s first solar power station if it is commissioned ahead of Eskom’s R6 billion plant planned for Upington, South Africa. The Upington project has secured funding from the African Development Bank, World Bank and financiers and is presently beyond the design stage.
The Botswana station, to be located in Phakalane and connected to the national grid, will be the torch-bearer for the 200mw solar power stations the BPC is planning for Jwaneng, Selebi-Phikwe, Serowe, Letlhakeng or Maun.
The station is the result of a 1.11 billion donation from the Japanese government to Botswana, for the construction of the plant. Yesterday, Embassy of Japan Charge D’Affairs, Setsuo Kosaka told Mmegi Business that preparations are steaming ahead towards the construction of the pioneering station in Phakalane.
“Tendering will take place in November 2010 in Tokyo. The Japanese contractor who wins the tender will commence construction early next year in Phakalane,” he said. “The whole facility will be handed over to the BPC immediately upon completion and the BPC will take care of it.”
Kosaka explained that so far, several studies have been conducted to clear the way for the construction of the power plant. “The environmental assessment and geotechnical survey on the site are challenges that we have faced. We hope these surveys will be made in an expeditious manner so that the Japanese contractor can construct the power station as early as possible,” he said.
The power station will require a large, open, flat and stable area of land with high radiology and – for cost purposes – close proximity to national grid installations. Kosaka stated that whether project costs had escalated beyond the 1.11 billion yen Japan originally budgeted for is of no consequence.
“The bidders will make bids not exceeding the amount of the donation,” he said. Japan’s donation to Botswana in February was made under the Cool Earth partnership, a Japanese government initiative to support developing countries in their efforts to combat global warming.
Japanese experts will closely monitor the performance of the solar power station in Botswana with a view to considering similar projects around the country. Solar Industry Association of Botswana officials have hailed the historic station, saying it will “bust the myth that solar power is unsustainable in the long term”. Botswana receives approximately 3,200 hours of sunshine each year or 21 millijoules per square metre per day.

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