The Botswana government has assured potential renewable-energy investors that it will follow through with the implementation of a proposed 100 MW utility-scale solar project, for which it received 166 responses to a call for expressions of interest- EoI released earlier this year.
The Botswana Power Corporation- BPC has been appointed as the government’s implementation agent for the project and the state-owned utility has indicated that it plans to issue a tender in the coming weeks to a short-list of companies selected from the list of EoI respondents.
Energy Director in the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Kesetsenao Molosiwa told delegates to an Africa Power roundtable in Johannesburg on Tuesday that the project was a priority for Botswana. He stressed that the BPC tender should be viewed as distinct from an earlier government-issued EoI, which has been abandoned, adding that the BPC tender would definitely “see the light of day”.
BPC has previously indicated that it aims to select an independent power producer before the end of 2017 and that the plant should be feeding into the national grid during the 2018/19 financial year. However, Molosiwa was unable to provide details as to the criteria that BPC will apply in selecting the companies to be invited to make formal bids. He indicated that BPC would most probably focus on developers with proven capabilities of delivering solar projects.
He also confirmed that the government intends to couple the solar project with a requirement for storage, so that the power facility could contribute to meeting Botswana’s morning and evening peaks. Several roundtable participants cautioned that such an approach would raise the cost of the project and recommended that storage be removed as a project requirement.
Molosiwa also reported that the Botswana government selected BPC as its implementation agent for a decentralised solar project to electrify 20 rural villages. He stressed however, that this project would proceed separately from the centralised 100 MW project.
Image by Asia Chang