Monday, March 18, 2013

UNDP and GEF spend millions in solar panels in Botswana, with selected private sector companies profiting from it

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Solar energy: Panacea to Botswana’s power woes?

With an average of 285 days of sunshine a year, Botswana is a country where solar power can technically flourish. According to the department of Meteorological Services, daily average sunshine duration ranges from 9.9 hours in summer to 8.2 hours in winter. Two or more consecutive cloudy days are uncommon, and far between. This makes solar an energy source of vast potential, and ideal for both urban and rural areas on the country, especially during these times of serious power shortage. In an act of recognition and confirmation of this potential, the Botswana Energy Master Plan was prepared for the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources committing to the provision of basic household needs to all strata of society.

This commitment extends to the provision of these households’ energy needs. Renewable energy has been identified as the most appropriate source of affordable, convenient and safe energy. In addition, the Botswana government through its partnership with its French counterpart signed a power deal where the utility companies Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) and France’s Electricite de France (EDF) will help in providing solar power to remote areas that are out of the power grid. As a result, the BPC Lesedi’s rural solar electrification project, supported by EDF, was officially launched in 2011. BPC Lesedi (Pty) Ltd was formed in 2008 for the purpose of rolling out the Renewable Energy-based Rural Electrification Project. The project is a collaborative effort between the government of Botswana, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

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