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Botswana launches the first solar power plant

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Botswana inaugurated on Monday, August 29, 2012, its first photovoltaic plant, thus making the first step towards the use of clean energy, Chinese news agency reported yesterday.

The solar plant has a capacity of 1.3 MW and its construction and development cost some USD 11 million (EUR 8.7m), provided by the Japanese government through the Cool Earth Partnership.

Speaking at the inauguration, Ponatshego Kedikilwe, minister of minerals, energy and water resources, noted that the project will have strong social, economic and environmental advantages.

The official statistics show that only 22% of the population in Botswana has access to electricity. The greatest part of the country's electricity production is generated by the 132 MW coal-fired plant in Morupule, in the eastern parts of Botswana. More than 80% of Botswana's electricity needs are met thanks to power imports from neighbouring countries, most notably South Africa.

The government of Botswana has already launched the construction of a 600 MW electric power plant near the Morupule facility in order to ease the country's energy shortage, especially as South Africa has decided to cut electricity exports to meet the growing local demand.