ESKOM bails out powerless Country

Botswana’s only power station has broken down due to boiler leaks and generator failures, leaving the world’s biggest diamond producer entirely dependent on power imports from South Africa’s already strained grid, its energy minister said. “All four units at the 600 MW Morupule B Power plant have broken down. Two units broke down in September while the other two failed early this month,” Kitso Mokaila told a news conference.

The plant was supposed to be fully operational by October 2012 but has been plagued by boiler failures, leading to power cuts and rolling blackouts across the landlocked southern African nation. Mokaila said scheduled outages would be kept to a minimum due to imports from South Africa, although this in turn could put added pressure on Eskom, the sole state power provider. Eskom was forced to impose rolling blackouts for the first time in six years earlier this year to prevent the national grid from collapsing. The utility is racing to build new plants to keep ahead of rising demand after more than a decade of underinvestment. Eskom confirmed it had increased supplies to Botswana under an agreement to export between 100 MW and 300 MW of power.

Another power station, Morupule A, is currently being refurbished and is expected to be complete in 2015.

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