Government ‘s decision to open bids for a new coal power station will go a long way in ensuring Independent Power Producers (IPPs) become partners in power generation locally. Minerals, Energy and Water Resources minister Kitso Mokaila this week announced that a tender for the 300mw coal fired power station has been opened. The highly anticipated tender will give potential firm(s) a chance to produce and sell power to government. Successful bidders will be required to come with a brown-field project that can bring electricity to the national grid in the 2016/17 fiscal year. The power station will be situated near Palapye, adjacent to Morupule B power station. “The project is expected to start as soon as preferred companies are chosen,” Mokaila told Botswana Guardian on the sidelines of a coal and energy project this week.
According to the tender published on 12 April 2013 in the government gazette, ‘technically and financially sound bidders’ are invited to submit applications to design, finance, and construct, own operate and maintain the project. Successful bidders will also be expected to decommission the project after economic life. According to government gazette, the project will be situated at the pithead of Morupule Coal Mine (MCM). Permanent Secretary Boikobo Paya could not disclose the total cost of the project. “It is at tender stage. We can’t reveal any figures,” he said. The IPP that wins the tender is expected to sell all the energy to Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) that will in turn sell to the public and enterprises. Manager of New Business at Worley Parsons welcomed the latest development on the upcoming power project. “Any new power generation project in Botswana and elsewhere is important.
The country (Botswana) and even the region is still grappling with power shortages,” Errol Hopton told Botswana Guardian on Wednesday. Worley Parsons provides professional services to the energy, resource, and complex process industries and has previously won tenders at Tati mine. Hopton’s view is that 2016 is far away hence the project should be ‘fast tracked’. Botswana Confederation of Commerce, Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM), which has already made its frustration over power cuts known to government this week concurred with Hopton. “It is encouraging that they want to build more power stations, but at this point in time we want short term solutions. Our members are suffering due to power cuts,” said Alex Monchusi, the organisation’s president. He feels that 2016/17 is ‘just too far away’ because most companies are feeling the negative effects of power deficits.
Neeraj Saxena, a project manager at Jindal Africa-Botswana this week confirmed having seen the tender but would not be drawn into discussing whether they will tender for the project. “I am still to read it further,” he said. Jindal Africa, a diversified resource and steel company is planning to splash P16 billion in the development of a 600mw power station at the Mmamabula coalfields, which were previously owned by CIC Energy. “I think the country will have an oversupply by the time the project finishes,” said Econsult Botswana’s macro-economist Thabelo Nemaorari, adding that it would also promote participation from the private sector. Government does not have any power supply contract with a purely private led company. Following the amendment of electricity and supply Act in 2007, no local players have supplied BPC with power. The tender for the new power station comes at a time when the country has been plunged into power crises owing to the failure to complete the Morupule B power station on time.
Morupule B is expected to release about 600 mw of power to the national grid. The country currently needs over 500mw of electricity at peak. Paya said they could not wait for the country to experience power deficit before they could start to build another power station. “By the time the new power station finish in about three years, the demand would have picked up,” said Paya. BPC Communications and Marketing Manager Spencer Moreri, is excited at the new project. “It’s a welcome development. We will now have more capacity to feed our customers,” he said Wednesday. Currently, BPC is unable to meet power demands. The problem has been made worse by the closure of Morupule A for refurbishment.
The station was adding just over 100mw to the national grid. BPC has since been forced to seek a fresh 100mw (firm) and 200mw (non-firm) contract with Eskom. Mogapi explained that even after the completion of the proposed 300mw power station, they would not abandon their current power suppliers. Botswana also gets power from Namibia, Mozambique and sometimes from DRC.