Botswana has launched a new power generation strategy that confirms it will boost the contribution from renewable energy resources to its total energy supply mix to at least 15% by 2030, although coalbed methane will also play a key role and coal investments will continue, at least in the short term.

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Launching the government’s 2020-2040 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) this week, Lefoko Moagi, Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology & Energy Security, said renewables currently contribute just 2% of energy supplies.

He said the aim is to reduce Botswana's dependence for electricity on neighbouring countries South Africa and Mozambique, as well as to reduce its carbon footprint and, potentially, become a net exporter of energy.

The official IRP launch came a few weeks after President Mokgweetsi Masisi had outlined the broad scope of the country's energy supply initiative.

Inefficiencies

Demand for electricity often exceeds supply, which results in load shedding, the use of back-up diesel power plants plus electricity imports through the Southern African Power Pool.

Botswana has a total installed generation capacity of 852 megawatts, with peak daily demand running at about 600 MW.

However, the country's power plants are not efficient and it currently imports — mainly from Namibia and South Africa — more than 50% of its needs, draining government coffers.

Moagi said the plan aims to generate sustainable jobs and increase foreign direct investment, stressing that “all the IRP projects will be procured on independent power producer basis using open international competitive bidding".

According to a statement from the Energy Ministry, Gaborone “has approved or is implementing” projects with a total installed capacity of 1540 MW that are due online by 2040.

Of this total, traditional solar is expected to account for 600 MW, with concentrated solar set to offer 200 MW and wind providing 50 MW.

Fossil fuels still key

However, Gaborone will not step away from fossil fuels, with coal set to contribute 300 MW of new generation capacity and coalbed methane providing 250 MW.

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Bidding activities are already underway for up to 100 MW of CBM-fired power, with London-listed junior Tlou Energy competing against Kalahari Energy to win a gas-supply contract.

According to Tlou, tender negotiations are expected to start next month, with the government targeting full-scale CBM-to-power production in 2025.