The Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources Kitso Mokaila has revealed that government is currently drafting an energy policy. The policy is expected to map out a successful way forward for Botswana’s renewable energy landscape.
Speaking at a two-day renewable energy conference in Gaborone on Monday, Mokaila said the policy is expected to be finalised and be ready for approval by 2015. The Energy Policy will provide a policy framework to guide effectiveness and sustainability in energy planning, development and provision. The plan is also to develop a detailed renewable energy strategy.
He said that government, in collaboration with the Japanese government, is undergoing a research project to cultivate a Jatropha carcus that will be resistant to Botswana’s extreme weather conditions.
“It is hoped that the species cultivated through this project will provide feedstock for Biodiesel production. I am first to admit the deficiency of the policy framework for the energy sector in general, and the renewable energy sub-sector in particular,” he said.
Currently, there is only one Biodiesel Plant in Lobatse with a capacity to produce at least one million litres per annum and about seven biogas installations nationwide.
However, the Minister stressed that there are other potential energy sources that can be harnessed such as; bi-energy for bio-diesel production, municipal solid waste for electricity generation and biogas for heating.
Botswana sees, on average, 320 clear sunny days per year, but the resource so abundantly available has not been utilised due to some key barriers with regard to information, finance, policy and framework, institutional arrangements and perceptions.
“At the country level, there was insufficient knowledge about available technologies and technological developments but we need to significantly harness this resource with respect to which we have a comparative advantage,” Mokaila added.
In order to successfully incorporate renewable energy into the main steam energy mix, the government has been working on initiatives to use natural resource to generate energy.
Earlier, government embarked on several initiatives aimed at introducing renewable energy into the mainstream energy mix. Unfortunately, some weren’t successful enough to become long term sustainable solutions.
Some such initives included the Botswana Renewable Energy Technology project, which was in operation during the 1980s, the Manyana PV Rural Electrification Programme, which started in 1992, as well as the National PV Rural Electrification Programme, which was implemented in 1997 with the aim of disseminating PV electrification throughout the country.