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Southren Africa power consumption spirals

Publishing Date : 07 August, 2018

Author : TSAONE SEGAETSHO

Despite its persistent power shortages, Southern Africa power appetite is expected to grow to uncontrollable proportions into the next decade with annual energy (GWh) growing by 43 % while peak demand rises by 52 % for countries in the region, something that horoscopes a gloomy future in the region that is prone to power crises.


These estimates are according to a fresh study made by power consultancy group Mott MacDonald Group called Southern African Power Market Study which further estimated that generation capacity in Botswana will be challenged in future like it happened in 2016 when it was 300 MW at Morupule B while the average daily demand was 400-500 MW in the same period. Mott MacDonald made the study in conjunction with energy firm Tlou Energy Limited which wants to produce low carbon energy source which will replace the use of coal and diesel in the production of electricity-ending the Botswana Power Corporation power supply monopoly as a result easing the utility’s burden.


According to the Southern African Power Market Study, Botswana is expected to rely more heavily on imports from South Africa’s Eskom in future. After seeing Botswana’s unhealthy demand pattern from now up to the next decade, Mott MacDonald concluded that for Botswana “balance will need to be met by reliable new capacity or imports.” However, the South African power utility like its local counterpart, BPC, has never been known for its infallibility when it comes to power generation and it is said to be growing in vulnerability as demand in the region grows.  


A graphically illustrated study by Mott MacDonald shows that currently the demand of electricity for an hour ranges from 500MW to 600MW. It further shows that after 7400 hours power will go to nil. For Morupule B, Mott MacDonald generation is expected tom be lower for the current demand. For an hour generation will go up to 500 MW while after 7400 hours generation will go to nil. According to Mott MacDonald load forecasts, in 2040 an hour will need 1200 MW and after 8323 hours electricity will go off.


When looking at the Botswana supply options Mott MacDonald says, “Botswana will need to add up to 500MW of committed, dispatchable electricity generating capacity by 2040, in order to keep pace with demand. If projects slip in schedule, imports will be increasingly be relied upon.” According to a Mott MacDonald power forecast, by 2030 there will be a need of P800 billion in new generation capacity that will help this region to keep pace with growing demand. Botswana will need P180 billion by 2030.


Mott MacDonald has casted doubts on the region’s ability to raise P800 billion for new capacity generation. According to the firm, in the past the region has always been synonymous with failure to roll out power projects on time. Many are currently stalled and may not proceed, said Mott MacDonald. A planned P8 billion expansion of Morupule B units V and VI which was dedicated to be the first ever independent power producer (IPP) is failing to take off and sources close to developments believe the initiative has been halted.


Japanese firm Marubeni Corp and South Korea’s Posco Energy had won the contract as the IPP partners and each build 150MW thus collectively adding 300MW to the current 600 MW Morupule B power plant, but the initiative has been put on hold as government and the two companies failed to agree on terms. According to Mott MacDonald’s analysis Botswana and its regional counterparts have low electricity tariffs that will make BPC difficult to sustain financially. The firm advised that BPC need to increase its tariff to 80 % so that it can recover costs.

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