Mmadinare Solar Cluster, A Testimony Of Energy Transition Journey -Masisi

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President Mokgweetsi Masisi ha said the Mmadinare solar cluster project is a clear testament of government’s total commitment to energy transition journey, which is in line with Botswana’s National Energy Policy whose aim is to contribute towards Sustainable Economic Development and a Sustainable Environment by ensuring optimal usage of the available primary energy resources.

Masisi said this during the ground-breaking ceremony for the Mmadinare Solar Cluster project that was held in Mmadinare last week. The project is reportedly the first utility scale grid connected solar PV project and it will be delivered through an Independent Power Producer (IPP) project structure.

Its scope entails the development, financing, construction, operation, and maintenance of a 50MW solar PV plant. In addition to the solar PV Plant, the scope of the project also includes construction of a 220 kV substation and the associated transmission lines to connect the plant to the National grid. The first Phase of the Mmadinare Solar Cluster will eventually generate a total 100MW of clean energy after completion of the second phase.

Phase one of the project is expected to be commissioned in January 2025 and Phase two within six months thereafter. The Power Plant will be delivered and operated by Scatec ASA under a 25 Year Power Purchase Agreement with Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) as the off taker.

According to Masisi, the 50MW solar PV is a major milestone towards realising the national commitment on climate change and global warming with the target to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by year 2030 with reference to 2010 emission levels. He stated this is the voluntary National Determined Contribution which Botswana made during COP 21 in 2015. Masisi said that it is imperative that Botswana play its role in achieving the international goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“The current projections regarding achieving this goal suggest that there is a more than 50% chance that global temperature rise will reach or surpass 1.5 degrees Celsius between 2021 and 2040. This is not good news for our planet and calls for bold and transformational action as per my National Statement during COP28,”he said.

He noted that the government of Botswana has made a decision to increase the contribution of renewable energy in the energy mix from 2% to 30% by 2030.

Masisi said that some of the significant strides which government is making towards transitioning from coal-fired electricity generation to renewable energy include, the second utility scale grid connected solar PV plant to be located in Jwaneng which will provide an additional 100MW of solar PV generation in the first quarter of 2026.

He revealed that the ministry of minerals and energy is also procuring developers for a 200 MW dispatchable solar PV plant to be constructed in Maun and a 100MW solar PV plant to be located in Letlhakane. He indicated that these two projects are expected to be in commercial operation by end of 2026.

“Further to the above, there are 12 small scale grid-tied solar PV projects with an aggregate capacity of 36MW which have been procured by Botswana Power Corporation. Two of these projects are already in commercial operation while the remainder are expected to be in operation by end of 2026,”he said.

Masisi said that the Rooftop Solar (RTS) Programme launched in June 2020 by the Ministry of Minerals and Energy facilitates installation of ground or roof mounted solar PV systems for electricity generation by end users for own consumption, while selling surplus to BPC. He stressed that to date, over 31MW has been awarded to domestic and industrial customers under this programme.

“Our country is endowed with several hours of sunshine in a year, with infrequent total cloud cover which places Botswana among the countries with the highest irradiation levels in the world. We need to fully exploit this God given primary energy resource for the betterment of Batswana’s lives and sustenance of our energy sector,” he said. 

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