Bots races against time to avert power crisis
Gaborone- The national power utility, Botswana Power Corporation (BCP) says electricity supply remains vulnerable due to low generation capacity.
The corporation said this past week that it is anticipating power supply challenges during the winter (peak) season due to low generation capacity and high demand of power within the region during the winter period.
BCP spokesperson Spencer Moreri said as part of the Demand Side Management (DSM) initiative to alleviate power supply deficit challenges envisaged, the power utility will embark on a programme in which customer loads will be remotely managed.
“The programme is expected to commence from 28th April and will be used whenever demand outstrips supply. The programme will be covering major towns and villages. The efforts are intended to keep load shedding as minimal as possible during peak demand as well as creating equity in the conservation of electricity,” he said.
Moreri explained that the programme will only be used as a first step when there is shortage of power so as to minimize load shedding.
“It will be limited to domestic and small business customers who will be required to maintain loads within 10A (2300 Watts) during peak periods (6AM-10AM & 6PM-10PM). “Exceeding the set load limit will lead to automatic disconnection of power supply which can only be restored after a period of one hour. It’s worth noting that continued non-compliance to the set load limit will lead to the power being supplied after the peak period (4 hours),” said Moreri.
He said the stipulated 10 A will typically allow customers to use at least 10 CFL lights (60Watts) and the television, any other appliances besides these should be switched off.
“While normal supply of 60 A will be restored when power is available, customers are duly encouraged to continue to conserve electricity at all times. Regrettably, whilst the Corporation is working around the clock to ensure normal power supply, the nation should expect possibilities of load shedding as a last resort measure to control demand,” said Moreri.
“Customers are reminded to use minimal electrical appliances during the peak times; (6AM-10AM and 6PM-10PM) to avoid disconnecting power supply in their households and/or small businesses. Botswana Power Corporation continues to experience power supply challenges throughout the country and is pleading with the nation to reduce the usage of power to avoid load shedding,” he said.
The power company also called on consumers to urgently switch off geysers, air conditioners, pool pumps and all non-essential appliances throughout the day to reduce electricity demand.
“As workers leave office buildings in the evening we ask that they please switch off the lights, with the exception of security lighting and avoid leaving on air-conditioning overnight,” said Moreri.
Official figures released by Statistics Botswana recently, show that Botswana power imports; mostly from Eskom, rose 36 percent to 510,100 Mega Watt Hour (MWH) in the fourth quarter of 2014 as boiler leakages at the country’s sole power station, Morupule B debilitated the plant’s capacity.
The Chinese built 600 MW Morupul B power plant constantly breaks down leaving the country, at times, in a precarious position of relying on imports for 100 percent of its electricity needs.
Botswana, which has a peak national demand of 610 MW also has other import agreement with power utilities in Mozambique, Zambia and Namibia.
Addressing a district councillors meeting recently, Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources Kitso Mokaila said that plans are under way to extend the import agreement with Eskom, which ends in December this year, to 2018.
“Under the Eskom agreement, Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) can import 100MW on a firm basis, which can be increased by an additional 200MW when available. BPC has advised Eskom of its intention to extend the agreement until 2018. Without the support of the South African government Botswana would have faced crippling power shortages,” Mokaila told the councillors.