China-built power plant transforms Botswana into electricity exporter

Updated: August 28, 2022 Source: Xinhua News Agency
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GABORONE, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- Botswana has been a net importer of electricity over the years. However, the coal-fired power station Morupule B -- built by the China National Electric Engineering Corporation (CNEEC) -- is slowly but surely changing Botswana's status quo, Professor Edward Dintwe, dean of the faculty of Engineering and Technology at the University of Botswana (UB), said in an interview with Xinhua.

For the past three months, both Morupule A and B power stations have been fully operational and dispatching over 800 megawatts of power per hour to the national grid, which is well above local electricity consumption, according to the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC).

"Sales have been made possible by improved plant availability at the flagship 600 megawatts Morupule B plant. So the surplus electricity should be sold to neighboring countries," Lefoko Moagi, Botswana's Minister of Minerals and Energy, told Xinhua.

As A landlocked country, Botswana is dominated by coal-fired power generation and had only one power station Morupule A before 2010.

To ensure energy security and increase electricity self-sufficiency, Botswana started the 600 MW Morupule B power Station project in 2010 with the CNEEC as the general contractor.

According to Zhang Xiangrong, CNEEC project manager, with the joint efforts of the Botswana government and the company, the plant operation is stable currently. The company started the renovation project of the power station in 2019. At present, the first unit has been renovated and the trial operation will be finished in September.

"Morupule B power plant is fully functioning with all the four units producing 150 megawatts of electricity each," said Moagi, adding that Morupule A power plant is generating at least 232 megawatts thereby bringing Botswana's power generation to 832 megawatts per hour.

According to Moagi, Botswana utilizes 580 megawatts during peak hours while only 360 megawatts are needed at off-peak hours. Botswana's peak and off-peak hours are during the evenings as well as mornings and in the afternoon and during weekends when industries are not open.

Moagi said South Africa, whose public electricity utility in Eskom is facing generation problems, is willing to buy power from Botswana. The BPC has therefore started engaging Eskom to purchase the excess electricity supply generated during off-peak periods to protect plants against load management fluctuations and also ensure that surplus electricity has a secured market.

Speaking during a media briefing after the Botswana-South Africa Business Roundtable in Gaborone, capital of Botswana on Aug. 4, 2022, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa said the willingness shown by Botswana to sell South Africa excess electricity will strengthen economic and trade ties.

By selling power to South Africa, Botswana hopes to realize its goal of becoming "a regional benchmark in power delivery" by 2026 with the Maduo26 strategy, a five-year plan unveiled last year.

Editor: Duan Jing