Botswana, through the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) which is due to be implemented, will be a net exporter of electricity with firm power exports.
This was revealed by Minister of Minerals and Energy, Mr Lefoko Moagi in response to a parliamentary question recently. Mr Moagi indicated that the IRP was developed and launched in 2020 to provide electricity projections of electricity demand in Botswana and power generation projects to be implemented to meet the projected electricity demand.
'The plan includes primary energy resources and technology to be deployed to provide the required electrical energy in a sustainable manner. The technologies include clean coal, wind, solar and gas and when implemented, the country will consistently have surplus electricity for export to other counties in the Southern African region,' he said. The minister told Parliament that the country needed an average annual electricity of approximately 4 000 Gigawatt hours (GWh), while the average local electricity generation stood at 2 900 GWh per year and 1 000 GWh was imported annually to augment local generation. He added that Botswana exported electricity during off peak load periods depending on the performance of Morupule B Power Station (MBPS), through the Southern African Power Pool electricity trade arrangements. 'To date 198 980 MWh has been exported through this arrangement,' he said.
Mr Moagi further explained that the export occurred on occasions when the MBPS generation was higher than the local demand. 'An example of such is when local demand is around 360MW versus total internal generation capacity of 405MW from Morupule A and B, which give 45MW surplus capacity. The main driver for power exports is availability of units at MBPS, which generates a total of 600MW when all units are operational at full load. It is then that 100MW surplus capacity would be available for export during off peak demand periods,' he explained.
However, he said the country needed to import electricity even during off peak demand periods once there were forced outages at MBPS. On connection cost, the minister told Parliament that such was determined by the cost of infrastructure required to connect a customer to the electricity network and not self-sufficiency in power generation.
He indicated that government had subsidised the cost of electricity connection to households to cushion customers against high infrastructure costs.
He added that the revised National Electrification Standard Connection (NESC) regulations catered for reduced connection cost of P2 500 for household customers earning P2 400 or less per month. Also, he said BPC provided a free 'ready-made box' to low income households with an income of P2 400 or less where premises were not wired.
On the other hand, he said the ministry appreciated the fact that frequent power cuts adversely impacted households and businesses.
'Therefore BPC should use its best endeavours to provide reliable electricity to all customers,' he added. On electricity consumption cost, the minister indicated that tariffs were determined by the cost of generation, transmission, distribution and supply of electricity to the end users.
He added that the energy regulator, Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) determined the appropriate tariffs for each customer category annually taking into account fundamentals of the economy.
Meanwhile, Minister Moagi indicated that Molepolole has had one of the stable networks in the country. He explained that like any part of the country, the inconveniences in the recent power cuts had been due to heavy rains and lighting storms, which disturbed the network reliability and communication.
Mr Moagi noted that Molepolole had also been affected by planned preventative maintenance, which he said Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) had adopted to reduce unplanned power interruptions. He further said other outages were due to village growth, adding, 'for new areas to be connected, there must be planned outages'.
Nevertheless, Mr Moagi said several initiatives to strengthen the network had been adopted in the Kweneng region and were ongoing, which included tree management along powerlines, feeder line upgrades and replacement of wornout equipment in the area.
MP for Molepolole North, Mr Oabile Regoeng, had asked the minister to state the national electricity consumption required in a year and the current level of local electricity production annually and how much was imported or exported.
Mr Regoeng had also asked the Minister if he is aware that Molepolole experienced frequent power cuts and if there were plans to rectify the matter.