The plant, which will use lenses or mirrors to focus a large area of sunlight onto a receiver, is due to be operational by 2027 and is the flagship renewable project in government’s Integrated Resources Plan (IRP) for energy development in the years to 2040.
The Ministry of Minerals and Energy published a shortlist of four bidders who include major global players with thousands of megawatts of power generation projects in their portfolios.
The bidders are a consortium comprising Power China Resources Limited and Shandong Electric Power Construction Corporation III, another partnership involving the China-Africa Development Fund and Shouhang High Tech Energy, as well as ACWA Power Company and Cobra Industrial Services.
Power China, which posted net profits of $344.1 million (P4.6 billion) in the third quarter of this year, has thousands of megawatts in coal-fired and renewable power stations around the world, while Shandong Electric also boasts thousands of megawatts of renewable generation across Asia and other parts of the world.
The China-Africa Development Fund, meanwhile, is an Africa-facing fund established by the Chinese government and boasting capital of more than $10 billion (P13.30 billion), while Shouhang High Tech specialises in solar energy and has a dedicated team researching and developing CSP systems.
Meanwhile, ACWA Power, a global energy firm headquartered in Saudi Arabia, has an investment portfolio in excess of $33 billion and has previously tendered for projects in Botswana.
Little information is available on Cobra Industrial Services, which appears to be a South African entity.
Ministry insiders told Mmegi that the four prequalified firms will undergo further evaluation before an agreement is secured with the preferred bidder.
The 200MW CSP project dates back to a feasibility study from 2012 which was done as part of the conditions for funding the Morupule B Power Station and represented a firm commitment by government to move away from fossil fuel dependence and towards ‘green growth’.
Government has recently stepped up its development of green energy, bringing forward several projects that were due for the back-end of the IRP in order to push the adoption of renewables in national electricity consumption from an initial target of 15% by 2030 to 30%.
“That 30% is just on the government side and when the private sector does its part, that figure will be higher,” Minerals and Energy minister, Lefoko Moagi told BusinessWeek recently. “We believe renewables will do that, especially with the abundance of sunlight in Botswana and we are also concluding the restating of our wind studies which were once done in 2013. “This is just to see which areas in Botswana have more wind potential so that wind can also come into the renewable space.”
The government has also kicked off a national energy usage study which will identify areas within the country where off-grid renewable solutions can be employed, such as solar and biogas.
At present, nearly all of the country’s electricity supply is generated from coal, with the exception of emergency diesel generators used during periods of high power demand, as well as small solar installations in Phakalane.