16 February 2009 – The first power station at the Mmamabula coal field in Botswana is due to become operational by 2013, using recent developments of the project as an indication of progress. Gregory Kinross, president of the development company leading this venture, stated that coal production for the initial phases of commercial operation is necessary to begin in 2011.
This increase in capacity will supply Botswana’s national electricity utility as well as Eskom, South Africa’s utility, which has been struggling to produce sufficient output.
The shortage of power in South Africa has caused great economic setbacks, including a five-day closure of a number of mines last year. Continuous electricity cuts amounting to enormous financial loss for the country presented the business case for this investment.
Growth capacity is expected to require approximately 1,500 MW over a 20-year period. The initial production phase will use 10 percent of coal resources from the coal mine at Mmamabula and is expected to generate 1,320 MW. An Independent Power Producer will be selected to manage the plant. The company has projected that the coal resources should be enough to produce 6,000 MW over 40 years.
Phase Two of the project will increase the capacity to 2,400 MW and development time will decrease as infrastructure will already be in place. The introduction of this phase is, however, dependent on finances. Kinross remarked that financial backing has not been of concern as the monetary institutions involved are well established and are hardly affected by the critical credit situation. The cost of infrastructure stands at $3 billion.