The Botswana energy regulator has granted a generation licence for a 100MW solar project to local firm Shumba Energy, a company executive said on Monday, making it the first independent power producer to set up a large scale solar plant in the country.
Botswana does not currently have large scale solar power generation and its 600 MW national energy demand is met by state owned coal-fired plants and imports, primarily from South Africa and Mozambique.
Locally-listed Shumba Energy plans to implement the project in two phases with construction of the first phase of 50 MW likely to start in the next six months.
“With all the permits now in place we are now working on concluding the funding, with capital expenditure estimated at about $80 million for the whole project,” managing director Mashale Phumaphi told Reuters.
Botswana has 212 billion tonnes of coal reserves and the fossil fuel is expected to continue to dominate power generation in the country in the near future, analysts have said.
Botswana has some of the highest levels of direct normal (solar) irradiation (DNI) – a measure of the amount of sunlight – at over 3,000 kWh/m2 per annum, according to Solargis.com, a global agency on solar data.