from ODIRILE TOTENG in Gaborone, Botswana
GABORONE – A FEASIBILITY study of a power plant that will generate up to 100 megawatts of electricity from indigenous coal bed methane (CBM) heralds the end of Botswana’s energy problems and is a significant step towards its ambition to be an exporter of electricity in the entire Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
The project will, in addition to reducing the reliance on imported electricity, help diversify Botswana’s economy from an over-dependence on diamond mining.
Kalahari Energy Botswana (KEB) has secured an undisclosed grant from the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) for a feasibility study on the power project located in the Central Kalahari Karoo Basin.
The grant is for a technical and economic feasibility study.
In May last year, the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, awarded KEB with Preferred Bidder status for the construction of a CBM-fuelled, independent power producer-(IPP-) owned power plant in the Southern African country.
The award followed a tender submission in October 2018.
Following the grant secured for the project, USTDA pledged to assist Botswana’s energy security and economic growth.
“This project will build upon USTDA’s commitment to working with our partners in Botswana to develop and expand the country’s natural gas options,” Thomas Hardy, USTDA’s Acting Director, said.
KEB has selected the US company, Advanced Resources International, to conduct the study at the Central Kalahari Karoo Basin.
Botswana has extensive coal reserves, estimated in excess of 200 billion tonnes. Of this, close to 50 billion tonnes could potentially be exploited economically.
The Central Kalahari Karoo Basin has been estimated to contain about 5,6 trillion cubic metres of CBM.
Eleven coalfields have been identified within the country.
Chris Scales, Director of Kalahari Energy, welcomed the instrumental role played by partners in the development process of CBM in Botswana over the past 15 years.
Botswana government officials have been to the US to gain an understanding of CBM.
Scales said the upcoming project in the Karoo Basin would have major benefits for the country in many aspects.
CBM production is rapidly expanding worldwide due to its low cost of production and widespread availability.
According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Botswana’s energy demand outstrips its supply.
However, the country’s untapped energy sources are also sufficient enough to meet both local and export volumes.
Coal presents a range of opportunities for local and export market energy generation, direct export of coal to many of the European and Asian markets, and local processing into a number of by-products.
Besides CBM, by-products include fertilisers, liquid energy, and gas, all of which can reduce the direct use of coal for electricity generation.
– CAJ News