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Morupule B project uncertainty persists

Publishing Date : 02 February, 2015

Author : UTLWANANG GASENNELWE

Station only producing 310 mw against 600 mw


The future of the embattled Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) multi-billion pula mega project Morupule B Power station is still unclear – fresh information reaching this publication suggests.


Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources (MMEWR) Kitso Mokaila told WeekendPost in a ‘brief’ interview this week that: “the units (not all) are running but we have serious challenges as they are not running in full capacity due to several issues like fans, fluidization and coal feeders among others.”


Mokaila has previously conceded that the project is not unfolding as anticipated. The beleaguered project has cost tax payers an estimated 11 billion pula – making it the most expensive project ever undertaken in the country.  


The Minister has gone on record several times stating that the project would be complete in previous years and lately October last year but the deadlines were delayed.


In this week’s interview, Mokaila would not be drawn into discussing the new timelines for the project. “At least the plant is keeping load shedding away from us for the time being,” he said.


WeekendPost has also established that frequent breakdowns of boilers persists - and currently the power station is running on 3 units – with a power deficit – opening a hole for more possible blackouts.


Moreover, it is understood that “the units are only producing 310 megawatts (mw) while the whole station is expected to be generating a capacity of 600 mw with each unit breeding 150mw,” and this was confirmed by BPC Marketing and Communications Manager, Spencer Moreri in an interview on Wednesday – further confirming that the units are not running at full capacity.


Moreri was not in a position to discuss or reveal the expected time of completion, but stressed that there is a timeline which he could not immediately divulge.


He said there are also challenges with regard to the 80 percent of imported electricity from the neighbouring South Africa’s power giants Eskom. Eskom has recently threatened to stop supplying Botswana as they were experiencing supply shortages of their own and therefore wanted to reserve the little they have for South African consumption. It was believed that Morupule B would eventually produce surplus electricity for sale back into South Africa and possibly other neighboring countries.


Morupule B Power station is an effort by government to develop a reliable and affordable supply of electricity for energy security, promoting alternative energy resources for low-carbon growth; and building its institutional capacity in the energy sector - and its achievement may remain a pipe dream if problems engulfing Morupule B endure - as is the case currently.  


As a result, the country is expected to plunge into more load shedding in the coming weeks, the BPC Marketing and Communications Manager confirmed. Moreri pointed out that there will be a possible service interruption due to supply challenges. “This has resulted in our national demand significantly exceeding supply and will inevitably lead to load shedding exercises to be experienced throughout the country,” the BPC spokesperson said as a matter of fact.   


The Morupule B plant was initially constructed by China National Electric Equipment Corporation (CNEEC) whose contract was later terminated by government following a dispute of not meeting up contractual obligations, and it was replaced by a German company named STEAG Energy Services which was roped in to assist detect problems created by CNEEC and fix them – an effort that is yet to be fully fulfilled.

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