Govt explores new projects to generate power



MASERU – The government has decided to undertake a systematic approach to explore and exploit new electricity generation initiatives, in particular through renewable technologies which can be quickly deployed. The Minister of Natural Resources Mohlomi Moleko said the current power demand has exceeded the total installed supply capacity so the government has decided to undertake a systematic approach to resolve the issue. In this respect, the government of Lesotho is currently developing two Solar Generation Plants with capacity to produce 20MW and 70MW, respectively.

“The deployment of the 70MW Solar Plant is in two phases, 30MW and 40MW respectively and the first phase (30MW) is at the commissioning stage and is expected to inject power into the grid by June 2023 after which construction of the remaining 40MW will commence and this will include storage capacity. “The government maintains a strong commitment towards renewable energy initiatives and encourages the use of renewable energy, and seeks to ensure and secure reliable and affordable energy supplies for the citizens of Lesotho. Reference is made with emphasis to the National Strategic Development Plan II, Strategic focus 2023/24 – 2027/28 of energy resolution towards renewable energy,” he said.

Mohlomi added that the government will support building skills that keep up the energy revolution, drive the transition of adoption of environmentally friendly production and industrial technologies that deploy sustainable and green energy sources. This is all aimed to make the country an attractive destination for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) that supports environmental sustainability and a place in the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP). In addition, he said the electricity industry in the SADC region has been characterised by insufficient generation capacity to meet the growing power demand where the current generation capacity shortfall is five thousand Mega Watts (5,000 MW).

Lack of adequate transmission and distribution infrastructure to deliver electricity to end users as well as limited regional trade of power due to transmission constraints along the central transmission corridor, are also some of the constraints. “The challenges facing the SAPP are not beyond solutions, the region can save up to thirty-seven (37) billion USD if coordinated planning is followed as per the estimate of the SAPP Pool Plan of 2017. SAPP is also working on the Regional Transmission Infrastructure Financing Facility with the objective of unlocking transmission constraints and promoting the financing and development of new transmission infrastructure,” he mentioned.

He added that while electricity remains vital to the socio-economic development of Lesotho, the entire power generation in the country (72 MW) comes from only one hydro source, which is ‘Muela Hydro Power plant. With maximum demand of 196MW, excess demand was met with imports from South Africa and Mozambique as well as from SAPP markets. The Lesotho power system is integrated into the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), through the interconnections with the Eskom South Africa power system. Lesotho imports over 50% of its electricity requirements from South Africa and Mozambique to meet demand.

This is an added advantage on top of the 72 MW of electricity generated from the ‘Muela Hydropower station.  The SAPP Interconnected Power Grid 2021 stated that Lesotho Peak Demand was 150 Mega Watts (MW) whereas that of South Africa was 35005 MW, making it lower. The Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) hosted the 60th Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) Management Committee (MANCO) meeting last week Friday.

The purpose of the meeting, among others, was to look at various issues from planning, project preparation, operations, markets and environmental areas as it provides a platform to address the issues with a view to jointly implement implantation. LEC hosted around 130 delegates comprising General Managers, Directors, Senior Engineers and Managers from member utilities in the Southern African Development Countries (SADC) region.

SAPP is about cooperation of the national electricity companies in Southern Africa under the auspices of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The members of SAPP have created a common power grid between their countries and a common market for electricity in the SADC region.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *