Botswana cancels 100 MW PV tender, plans new procurement exercise for June


State-owned electric utility Botswana Power Corp. (BPC) has cancelled a tender for 100 MW of solar capacity it launched in May 2017.

In a statement, the company said the project — which was originally structured to consist of two 50 MW facilities, as part of a joint venture with potential private investors — will be now redefined as an IPP project, with investors to become 100% owners of the two plants.

“The project was nullified to allow for a fresh procurement process to be conducted with the new Terms of Reference (ToR) in line with the desired project structure,” BPC explained.

The company said that a new tender will be floated by the end of June. It also specified that potential investors will be expected to establish partnerships with local companies for joint project ownership, construction and O&M. If built, the two facilities will be country’s first large-scale PV plants.

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According to Reuters, BPC received 166 bids from local and international power producers. It was the second solar tender that the utility has canceled in recent years. The government of Botswana issued a similar expression of interest for a concentrated solar power installation in 2015, but the project was never implemented. BPC also launched a new tender for 12 IPP solar projects last November.

Solar and renewables are expected to help Botswana reduce its dependence on power imports from troubled South African utility Eskom. However, the country faces the threat of continuous electricity shortages due to technical problems in its 600 MW coal-fired power plant, known as “Morupule B.” This plant is able to cover around 30% of electricity demand, with the remaining percentage coming from imports.

Despite its urgent need for more generating capacity, the African country had only installed 3 MW of solar capacity by the end of last year, according to the latest statistics from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). According to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Botswana is one of a number of African countries that could meet 30% of their projected 2030 energy demand with low-impact solar PV.

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