The troubled 600 megawatts Morupule B Power Station is expected to be handed over next month with the hope that its commissioning will put to rest forever power outages that have become part of life and doing business in Botswana.
The completion of the power station will not only solve Botswana’s electricity woes but shift the country from being a net importer to a net exporter of electricity.
Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Kitso Mokaila revealed these expected positive developments to delegates who attended the two-day Botswana Coal and Energy Conference held in Gaborone this past week.
Since the beginning of this year Botswana has been experiencing regular and long power outages which disrupted business operations across the country. The hope of the business community and homes is that Morupule B will stabilize electricity supply.
Botswana is still heavily dependent on importing electricity from the neighbouring countries and the bulk is from South Africa.
Botswana Power Corporation recently secured a new three-year contract for the supply of 100 MW of electricity from Eskom of South Africa, following the expiry last December of a previous deal. The 100 MW is on a firm basis, while another 200 MW would be made available on a non-firm basis between January and July this year.
Mokaila told the conference that the construction of the Morupule B coal fired power plant and the subsequent 300 MW Brownfield IPP expansion in Morupule and another 300 MW Greenfield IPP is intended to transform the country from being an importer to an exporter of electricity.
“The Commissioning of Morupule B power station is behind schedule due to reliability problems associated with the first two units. The plant was originally scheduled to be handed over by the end of the fourth quarter of 2012 and now it is expected to be handed over in May 2013, barring the unforeseen,” he said.
He also mentioned that procurement of owners’ engineers, financial and legal advisors, and environmental specialists are ongoing to facilitate the 300 MW IPP Brownfield and Greenfield. The tender to pre-qualify IPP’s was gazetted this month – April 12.
Botswana is endowed with vast coal resources of about 212 billion tonnes, which up to now have not been fully exploited. Mokaila said for a long time economic situations have conspired against significant exploitation of these coal resources.
“It is gratifying to observe that the situation has changed, and Botswana coal is in demand outside the borders of this country. In particular a number of emerging economies have led the growth in demand for coal internationally and represent potential markets for Botswana coal. The limiting factor now is the necessary infrastructure to transport the coal to these markets.”