Govt in drive to in­crease power gen­er­a­tion

Lesotho Times - - Business - Bereng Mpaki

THE gov­ern­ment is fi­nal­is­ing poli­cies to in­crease the pri­vate sec­tor’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the energy sec­tor to feed into the na­tional grid and boost the coun­try’s ca­pac­ity to meet its power needs.

This was re­vealed by the Prin­ci­pal Energy Of­fi­cer in the Min­istry of Energy and Me­te­o­rol­ogy Jerry Seitl­heko dur­ing an in­ter­view with Le­sotho Times this week.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Seitl­heko, Le­sotho’s do­mes­tic power pro­duc­tion was 72 megawatts (MW) — which is way be­low the coun­try’s base load re­quire­ment of 100MW.

The base load re­quire­ment mea­sures de­mand for power dur­ing nor­mal us­age pe­ri­ods but de­mand can rise to as high as 150MW dur­ing peak times in win­ter.

As a re­sult of the short­fall, he said Le­sotho im­ports more than half of its power needs from neigh­bour­ing South Africa and Mozam­bique, in­creas­ing the coun­try’s vul­ner­a­bil­ity to in­creased costs and power out­ages that it can­not con­trol. He said the min­istry had noted with con­cern the pri­vate sec­tor’s low par­tic­i­pa­tion in energy gen­er­a­tion although in­ter­est had been there since 2008 when low gen­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity re­sulted in power out­ages in many coun­tries in the south­ern Africa re­gion.

“The Le­sotho Energy Pol­icy 2015-2020 shows that lim­ited lo­cal gen­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity and the low house­hold con­nec­tions to elec­tric­ity have cre­ated an op­por­tu­nity for the pri­vate sec­tor and co­op­er­a­tive as­so­ci­a­tions to par­tic­i­pate in power gen­er­a­tion ac­tiv­i­ties,” said Mr Seitl­heko.

He said the gov­ern­ment was work­ing to­wards en­sur­ing greater par­tic­i­pa­tion of the pri­vate sec­tor which would also help to achieve the aim of meet­ing the 100MW base load re­quire­ment.

To this end, he said, the min­istry was in the process of eval­u­at­ing ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est re­ceived from the pri­vate sec­tor for the es­tab­lish­ment of a so­lar power plant with a ca­pac­ity to gen­er­ate 20MW.

“The in­vi­ta­tion was pub­lished to­wards the end of last year and we are cur­rently work­ing on eval­u­at­ing the ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est. When com­pleted, the ini­tia­tive will af­ford the pri­vate sec­tor a chance to par­tic­i­pate in energy pro­duc­tion while also im­prov­ing do­mes­tic power sup­ply,” Mr Seitl­heko said.

In ad­di­tion to so­lar, he said the pri­vate sec­tor is also en­cour­aged to par­tic­i­pate in mini hy­dro, wind and biomass power gen­er­a­tion projects.

He said that as an added in­cen­tive to their par­tic­i­pa­tion, the gov­ern­ment is also fi­nal­is­ing a doc­u­ment that will sup­port the pur­chase of power from the pri­vate sec­tor.

Mr Seitl­heko added: “Con­sul­tants en­gaged by the gov­ern­ment have com­pleted a fi­nal draft re­port on the Reg­u­la­tory Frame­work for Devel­op­ment of Re­new­able Energy Re­sources in Le­sotho, which will among other things, in­tro­duce a whole­sale tar­iff that sup­ports in­creased par­tic­i­pa­tion of the pri­vate sec­tor and co­op­er­a­tive as­so­ci­a­tions in bulk pur­chas­ing and re­tail­ing of elec­tric­ity.”

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