P18 billion needed to solve power supply woes in Botswana

  • Power demand seen rising
  • Power generation declines on faulty Morupule B
  • Imported electricity increased by 46.7%

Gazette Reporter

Botswana will need to cough up close to P18 billion to solve current electricity supply challenges and keep up with demand before 2040, according to a Southern African Power Market Study compiled by Tlou Energy and the Mott MacDonald Group.
For the most part of 2016/17, Botswana’s controversial power plant, Morupule B operated at 300 Mega Watts (MW), while the country average daily demand was 400-500MW in the same period, leading to imports from South Africa’s ESKOM,.
The report was presented by Gabaake Gabaake, Executive Director of Tlou Energy in Botswana at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) industrialization week in Namibia, which was held last week to map a way towards industrialization in SADC member states.
While supply of power has its share of challenges, demand is however on the rise. Demand grew from 600MW in 2015 to 650MW in 2017. In 2018, power demand is expected to hover at an average of more than 750 MW and to further rise to a historic 1100 MW in 2021.
According to a presentation made by Gabaake, it is likely that Botswana’s power woes will continue, hence the continued reliance on ESKOM. Offering solutions, Gabaake advised government to match long-term growth in peak demand against committed dispatchable capacity. He said non-dispatchable capacity (such as solar or wind power) is often not considered in capacity planning as it may not be available at system peak. Botswana currently produces less than the 600MW demand, since Morupule B is faulty. Alternative power sources are the Debswana owned diesel powered plant and the Matshelagabedi plant, which fall short of meeting national demand. According to Gabaake, Botswana will need to add up to 500MW of committed, dispatchable electricity generating capacity by 2010, in order to keep pace with demand. He said that if projects fall behind schedule, imports will be increasingly relied upon, digging deep into the national purse. “It is expected that the supply-demand balance will tighten across region in coming years, in line with the historically cynical nature of power market supply-demand,” he said.
Given the possibility of new wind and solar capacity in the region, backstop technologies such as gas have a role to play in the supply balance, according to the Tlou Energy boss. He said by 2050, gas and renewable will form the biggest chunk of installed capacity.
Gabaake said Botswana has an option to contribute to its ow self-sufficiency and exports into the region using quick start gas generation. By 2030, the region will need up to US80 billion, approximately P800 billion in new generation capacity to keep pace with demand.
According to a study presented by Tlou Energy, Zimbabwe will need up to US8.8 billion (P88billion), almost half of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). South Africa, the regional superpower will need to invest US57.4 (P574 billion), while Namibia will have to invest US5.9 billion (59 billion). Botswana will also need to invest US1.8 billion in power infrastructure, an equivalent of P18 billion. According to Statistics Botswana, for the first quarter of 2018, electricity generated in Botswana declined as compared to the previous quarter resulting from the challenges at Morupule B, Statistics.