As a firm specializing in market research and data analysis through surveys, feasibility studies, polls, among others, we hope to bring valuable insights through today’s article as we focus on business opportunities in the generation of electricity in Botswana.
Only 200KW generated before Independence
History has it that before independence (in 1950), electricity was only produced in Francistown by the Tati Concession Company generator plant which used coal from Witbank in South Africa and Hwange (Wankie) from Zimbabwe. The total output around that time was only 200 kilowatts which was just enough for the surrounding areas. More than 50 years later, there has been mega developments in the local generation of electricity for the whole nation.
Records indicate that the share of the population with access to electricity increased from an average of 10 percent in the 1990s to over 70 percent in 2020. This is confirmation of the steady increase in power generation over the years. Statistics Botswana revealed in a recent report that the volume of electricity generated in the second quarter of 2022 was 937,597 MWH which is a striking 85.5 percent rise from 505,313MWH in the second quarter of 2021.
Demand exceeds supply
However, demand continues to be more than supply hence the persistent power cuts and the perennial importation of electricity from neighbouring countries. In comparison to other nations, Botswana is among the top importers of electricity in Africa. Tanzania imports only 485 MWH, the DRC 1300 MWH, Southern Sudan 169 MWH, and Namibia imports 252,026 MWH. According to the report, Botswana received a total of 162,340MWH of which was from 46.5 Eskom, 32.7 percent from the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), 17.1 percent from Cross-border electricity markets, ZESCO with 1.9 percent and finally 1.8 percent from Nampower. The statistics also reveal a steady decrease in the quantities imported by 55.8 percent from last year.
Alternative energy potential
The energy mix which is the balance of sources of energy in the supply is becoming increasingly important as countries try to shift away from fossil fuels towards low-carbon sources of energy such as nuclear or renewables including hydropower, solar and wind. Currently, the two Morupule thermal power plants which are fired by coal (a fossil fuel), account for about 99.3 percent of generated electricity.
With the abundance of solar, wind and potential methane sources in the country, there is a huge opportunity for renewable energy development. Research has revealed that Botswana has wind and coal bed methane potential that have not been fully explored. The wind power density is projected at above 200W/ m² with annual energy production above 4.5 GWh/year. According to an ITA trade report, theoretical biomass energy potential also exists in Botswana at 32 million GJ per year, estimated from a considerable biomass potential of 20 million tons per year, which could come from cow-dung and municipality solid waste. Another feasibility study for production and use of biofuels in Botswana is reported to have revealed the potential for liquid bio-fuels production, mainly biodiesel from Jatropha carcass, and ethanol from sweet reed.
BPC which currently enjoys a monopoly of transmission and distribution of electricity has availed avenues for partnerships in alternative power generation and this presents unlimited potential for better returns from investing in renewable energy. Surveys and feasibility studies are critical in identifying the potential and viable businesses related to renewable energy production.
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