Significant wind and solar potential and abundant biomass residues present considerable opportunities for Botswana to enhance domestic energy security and increase access to modern energy services, according to a new report published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Short-to-medium-term actions in the areas of policy, regulation, risk, and investment can create a more conducive environment for renewables development in the country, per the report.
Renewables Readiness Assessment: Botswana, developed in close co-operation with the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security (MMGE), complements the Botswana National Energy policy recently adopted by parliament. A prominent objective of the policy is to substantially increase the penetration of renewable energy in the country. Botswana aims to source 15% of its energy from renewables by 2030, and 36% by 2036. At the end of 2020, Botswana had 6 MW of installed renewables capacity.
“The release of this assessment coincides with parliament’s recent adoption of a National Energy Policy, a prominent objective of which is to achieve a substantive penetration of new and renewable energy in order to support energy self-sufficiency and energy security,” said Hon. Lefoko Moagi, Minister for Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security of Botswana. “This study augments ongoing national efforts to achieve this goal. Botswana is grateful to IRENA for its continued support.”
Around a third of Batswana currently lack access to electricity and the country’s power system is characterised by unreliable power supplies and high service costs. To meet its peak power demand, Botswana currently relies on coal and imported petroleum products from South Africa and imports up to 15% of its electricity from neighbouring countries. The report notes domestic renewable resources can be harnessed to meet rising power demand, reduce dependency on power imports, and diversify the country’s generation mix, while mitigating climate change and increasing access to clean, reliable electricity.
“Botswana has a significant endowment of renewable energy resources that if fully developed could stimulate sustainable, economy wide gains that benefit all Batswana,” said IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera. “We will work closely with the Government of Botswana as it pursues a new energy future, to ensure that the recommendations of this study help inform planning and policymaking in the years ahead.”
Promoting and facilitating the implementation of a clear long-term vision for renewable energy development with binding commitments supported by data from pre-feasibility studies can help address investment risks and attract private sector participation, according to the report. The assessment also points to the integration of renewable energy beyond the power sector by developing well-aligned strategies for renewable energy in agriculture, transport, heating, cooling, and cooking.
The report also calls for the operationalisation of the Botswana Energy Regulation Authority (BERA), guaranteeing a sustainable and independent budget, as well as sufficient political independence and capacity to hold utilities to account for their financial and operational performance. The report highlights that a transparent grid code could be established under BERA to govern all current and future electricity generators, ensuring renewable electricity is given priority grid access, and that its dispatch is based on marginal costs.
Renewables Readiness Assessment: Botswana identifies additional critical actions that could significantly impact the energy transition in Botswana:
- Revise the tariff-setting structure.
- Define a clear regulatory framework to manage risks involved in private sector participation.
- Perform a location-specific (pre-feasibility) study for renewable energy generation and streamline permitting processes.
- Conduct a study on the capability of the grid to absorb power from variable renewable energy sources.
- Integrate rural electrification strategies into a single, comprehensive document and consolidate rural electrification activities.
- Support the growth of solar rooftop and home systems through strong incentives and policy instruments.
- Develop local human capacities along the project value chain.
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