Power imports decrease due to Eskom shortages

Power imports decreased by 26.8 percent in the first quarter of 2015 as the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) could not secure adequate supplies from Eskom in South Africa.

According to figures released by Statistics Botswana (SB) yesterday, the volume of imported electricity amounted to 451,092 Megawatt-Hour (MWH), when compared to 616,206MWH recorded during the first quarter of 2014.

The shortages led the BPC to implement demand side management programmes, which included load control measures and loadshedding.

Comparison of the first quarter of 2015 and the fourth quarter of 2014 importation shows a decrease of 59,219MWH, representing a decline of 11.6 percent. “The country imported less electricity not because there was increased local production, but because the source could not meet demand as other suppliers like Eskom continue to face challenges in sufficient generation,” says SB.

As from April this year, the BPC implemented the Demand Side Management (DSM) initiative to remotely manage power usage and strictly limit people from using heaters or electrical stoves.

The initiative requires domestic and small business customers to maintain loads within 10Amps (2,300Watts) during peak periods (6-10am and 6-10pm).

Exceeding the set load limit will lead to automatic disconnecting power supply, which can only be restored after a period of one hour.

SB figures also indicate that the index of the physical volume of electricity generation stood at 370.3 during the first quarter of 2015.

This gives an increase of 63.5 percent over the index of 226.4 during the same quarter in 2014.  As compared to the fourth quarter of 2014, the index for the physical volume of electricity generated increased by 3.2 percent from 358.9 during the fourth quarter of 2014 to 370.3 during 2015 first quarter.

In order to offset the electricity shortages, the BPC increased output of the emergency power generators located at Orapa and Matsiloje to feed into the national power grid, even though this did not completely meet the demand.

The statistics agency adds that the physical volume of electricity generated increased by 15,947MWH from 502,881MWH during the fourth quarter of 2014 to 518,828MWH during 2015 first quarter. This shows an increase of 3.2 percent over the three months period.

“The Morupule a power plant is currently shutdown and there has not been any production at the plant during the period under review.

Electricity generation has been solely on the Morupule B power plant,” says SB. Furthermore, figures show that during the first quarter of 2015, the volume of electricity distributed stood at 969,220MWH, showing an increase of 3.9 percent from 933,451MWH of electricity distributed during the first quarter of 2014.

However, comparison of distribution during the last quarter of 2014 and the first quarter of 2015 shows a decrease of 4.3 percent (42,272MWH) from 1,013,192MWH distributed during the fourth quarter of 2014 to 969,920MWH distributed during the first quarter of 2015.

“The low distribution of electricity is further evidenced by the measures taken by the supply company to ensure that electricity is used with care as the supply is less than the demand,” says SB.

Electricity generated locally contributed 53.5 percent of the distributed electricity during the first quarter of 2015. For the whole of 2014, electricity generated locally contributed 59.2 percent to electricity distributed.

The statistics body explains that the increase in contribution of electricity generated locally to electricity distributed is attributed to efforts made to increase generation as well as decrease in electricity imported.

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