BPC sees power cuts easing by Thursday

A dark street : PIC:internet
A dark street : PIC:internet

The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) expects the electricity outages that have been plaguing the nation since Monday to ease by Thursday as more units from Morupule A and B come back online.

Units at the 600MW Morupule B and the 120MW Morupule A tripped after midnight on Sunday and the Corporation is still investigating what it suspects to have been an issue on the Phokoje-Matimba transmission line. At the time of the fault, the two power stations were producing 505MW, versus demand of 390MW, which represents off-peak demand in the country.

Briefing journalists earlier today, BPC technical services manager, Tebogo Thakadu, told Mmegi that while under ordinary circumstances, problems in the transmission line would not lead to generation issues, there were exceptions.

“Under normal circumstances it should not happen, but there are incidents even in the past, where loss of transmission line will result in loss of generation, especially where you don’t have an evacuation path from your generation plant,” he said. “It may happen where the generation units are on full load and you suddenly lose your evacuation path. “As a design, you want to protect your generation facilities, so that any incidents that happen on the transmission line do not have adverse effects line.”

The Corporation’s CEO, David Kgoboko said as the units at Morupule B and A tripped, one of them suffered “a minor defect” and was undergoing repairs. The balance are at various stages of being restored to generation, except for Unit 2 at Morupule B which had been undergoing a full revamp before the recent faults.

According to Kgoboko:

At Morupule A, • Two units have been restored and are on full load • Unit 2 is being restarted and is expected back on the grid around 15:00Hrs today • Unit 1 is undergoing statutory maintenance and is expected back in service during the 1st week of June 2023

At Morupule A • Unit 4 was successfully restored back to service yesterday and is on full load (150MW) • Unit 3 was synchronized this morning at 05:45 Hrs. and we are raising the load and hope to get to full load today by 6pm • Unit 1 suffered a minor defect because of the sudden trip. Repairs are ongoing and we expect the unit back on the Grid by end of day on Thursday • Unit 2 is on planned major overhauls which are scheduled to be completed at the end of July 2023

Since 2019, Morupule B has been undergoing a $120 million revamp, which involves taking each unit down for about a year, reworking and testing and reconnecting it to the grid. The revamp, which is expected to be complete by 2026, has been credited with generally stabilising the country’s power supply since 2018, following years of breakdowns and loadshedding.

However, Morupule B has not been entirely free of troubles, as faults in the plant caused nationwide power outages early last November. The blackouts from that period resulted in the first official loadshedding in seven years.

Officials said after Morupule A and B broke down on Monday, about 350MW had been sourced from South Africa, with more from Namibia and Mozambique. However, by earlier today the country still had a 120MW shortfall, which could only be met through rotational loadshedding.

“The situation is expected to improve as generation at Morupule B and A power stations is restored to normal and we expect to achieve this by Thursday this week – barring the unforeseen,” Kgoboko said.

He however added: “The supply constrains are expected to continue obtaining over the next three years during which period Morupule B units will be undergoing defects remediation which should be completed by end of 2026.”

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