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Govt courts German solar energy investors

PAULINE DIKUELO
Government has invited German companies to help Botswana tap into its abundant sunlight availability to generate photovoltaic energy.

Principal energy engineer renewable in the Department of Energy, Setshedi Ntsowe told a recent German business inward mission thatdespite solar resource, Botswana has limitations with the requisite technology.

The purpose of the conference was to encourage discussions and explore business opportunities on Solar-PV applications between Botswana and German experts.

Opportunities that were availed included water heating, especially in the rural areas, rural electrification as well as replacement of power panels.

“Out of the 492 rural villages, about 377 is electrified constituting about 76.8 percent compared to our target of 80 percent. I understand about 24 more villages will be electrified through the Economic Stimulus Package,” he said. Recently, government collaborated with the UNDP regarding the rural photovoltaic energy project and developments have been made. Ntsowe said renewable energy technology should be guided by a well-thought renewable energy strategy, which should have an acceptable, economically viable and environmentally friendly energy solution.

Further he said that Botswana will depend on both fossil fuels and renewable energy since these are complementary noting that there is a need to develop carbon energy portfolio.

According to Ntsowe, the Energy Regulation Bill is being drafted to regulate the industry adding that consultants are currently looking at the renewable energy strategy and framework.

In addition, the renewable energy strategy is being done in collaboration with

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the World Bank regarding the climate resilience programme, which Botswana has submitted proposals to participate.

“The introduction of the grid power to the villages have made the photovoltaic redundant,” he said.

For his part, Solar Industry Association of Botswana chairman, Felix Chapi told the Germans that there are opportunities in the country, which include the rural electrification of staff houses, clinics as well as schools.

“The regulatory reforms will unlock huge opportunities in the grid connected roof top installation. Some mines, which are located in the remote areas without grid power, usually during prospecting they prefer to use solar power for their energy requirement,” he said.

He added that most mines are adopting energy management principles and using solar. However, the Germans advised that there should be a balance between tariff levels and cost level as well as a clear adoption or exit strategy to conventional power plants as they are part of the transition period. They added that policies should also express a clean commitment to see that people believe in the business opportunities as well as urged solar industries to join forces and work together for a good framework for high quality.

Germany is an energy transition pioneer phasing out fossil fuels and increasingly incorporating renewable energy into the country’s energy mix.



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