Company’s MD says solar and gas could be combined to provide reliable baseload power.
Tlou Energy, the Botswana-based power generation company that is developing clean energy solutions for Botswana and the sub-Saharan region, believes Botswana is an ideal location for solar power with its high levels of irradiation.
“Tlou continues to advance plans for development of solar power,” said Anthony Gilby in the company’s 2022 annual report released recently. “Solar generation can work as a standalone project and in addition to the planned gas-fired generation. Botswana is an ideal location for solar power with high levels of irradiation.”
Gilby said a standalone solar project can assist with power requirements during daylight hours. However, Tlou’s solar and gas could be combined to provide reliable baseload power, with solar generation during daylight hours and gas-fired power used when solar is unavailable.
“This approach could reduce carbon emissions compared to Botswana’s existing coal and diesel fired generation,| plus a combined solar and gas approach also reduces potential grid stability issues,” Gilby noted.
He said Tlou is also looking into hydrogen production as the hydrogen economy is rapidly developing and could open additional business opportunities. “Tlou is developing a hydrogen strategy in conjunction with its partners with the aim of producing hydrogen as well as carbon black or graphite via methane pyrolysis,” he noted. “In addition to the above Tlou is looking at monetising currently flared gas.”
Gilby said one potentially viable option that the company will explore is the mining of crypto currencies and that the company has successfully completed a small crypto mining trial at its field camp.
“The trial used excess field camp electricity to run crypto mining units to produce Bitcoin,” he noted. “This has established proof of concept and built in-house technical expertise. The next stage will involve powering the crypto miners using electricity generated from the Lesedi 4 production well.”
Gilby stated that gas is becoming an increasingly valuable commodity of late, particularly when discovered reserves are in an advanced state of development such as Tlou’s. “During 2022, energy supplies and power markets have experienced severe dislocation stemming initially from post-COVID reflation policies and subsequently from the Ukrainian situation with its associated sanctions,” he said.
“As a result, global power prices have had extreme surges. In the UK, consumers are seeing substantial increases in gas and electricity bills from pre-pandemic levels. In August, Sasol as South Africa’s main natural gas supplier, doubled gas prices and has regulatory room to increase them again.”