Morupule B problems cause rolling blackouts in Botswana

Botswana’s power demand is estimated at some 600 MW and is intended to be provided by the four unit Morupule B power station, the country’s original 120 MW Morupule A power station having been mothballed in 2012.

Morupule B power station was supposed to have been handed over by the end of 2012, but this is now expected at about the middle of 2013. Botswana has been experiencing rolling blackouts with Morupule unit four still under construction while units one and two have been undergoing repair work. The first Morupule B units were commissioned in 2012 but unit one was taken off-stream on January 15th 2013 after developing cracks in its primary and secondary air ducts. It was expected to be back in service by the end of April 2013. Unit two has been out of service since January 16th also requiring repairs, and the third unit which had been the sole operating unit during much of the first quarter of 2013 has now developed the same problem.

Since February 2013 and well into April, Botswana Power Corporation has been undertaking a load shedding programme, with the country only able to supply a maximum of 310 MW of power, some 160 MW of this comprising emergency power from costly diesel power units.
The country has a contract with Eskom of South Africa to receive up to 300 MW but only 100 MW of this is firm power. This contract extends until July 2013. Botswana has non-firm deals with Mozambique and Namibia of up to 150 MW, although the availability of this supply depends on those countries’ own needs.