The development of renewable energy generation projects has become attractive to a number of energy consumers, installations and large institutions, land and estate owners and others who recognise the economic, environmental and/or security potential of renewable energy. Whether the goal is for projects large or small, and regardless of whether the host will eventually finance and build the project themselves, each will find it important to take on the role of project developer during the early stages of project development.
Energy is seen as an important element of socio-economic development. Energy can provide services such as extension of daytime activities through lighting, entertainment through radios and televisions and plumbing of portable water. Photo Voltaic (PV) projects in Botswana have always been implemented to provide social and communal services such as powering health centres, schools and communal centres.
Botswana is a lower middle income African country, currently having to choose the basis of its future electricity production owing to the inability of Eskom to continue to supply 75% of Botswana’s needs. Botswana needs to establish security of supply and faces the choice of continuation of the coal-fired production of energy of the past, which has given Botswana very high releases per capita, or embrace a clean energy change.
Botswana is the size of France but supports a population of only 2(two) million people, and has experienced very fast economic expansion over the last 40 years, based on the use of income from diamond production. Botswana is seen as having special privilege to use fossil fuels to ensure development and it has very large coal reserves. Access to grid-based energy was limited to 15% of the population in 1999, but the target is for 90% access by 2018. There are clear statements on renewable energy and a national photo-voltaic (PV) rural electrification programme.
Botswana is looking to China (like most African countries) to see the way forward post 2012 for G77 countries on clean energy. Chinese funding in Botswana has been largely controlled into coal-fired power stations. Chinese energy decisions are both a barrier and an opportunity as it moves into the technological lead on RET in its own country.
There is a possibility of full clean energy transitions for Botswana, through on-grid combination of decentralised REFIT and centralised CSP.
The governance mechanisms in Botswana provided by the Kgotla consensual approach, involving all Botswana actors, could provide the platform for discussion of an energy regime change after the end of the current vision 2016, laying the foundations for a long term low carbon path for Botswana.
The Time to Go Green is Now!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ralph M Ertner, born in 1965, is the founder and current CEO of the INTO SA Group. His career started at Deutsche Bank Berlin, where he was trained in and later responsible for asset and portfolio management. He went on to study law at the Free University of Berlin. After gaining experience at the law firms of Neuendorff & Partner (Berlin), Heussen Braun von Kessel (Munich) and Jan S De Villiers (Cape Town) as well as Van der Spuy (Cape Town) he decided in 1995 to stay in South Africa permanently. Two years later he obtained the degree of Master of Laws at the University of Cape Town (UCT). With his specialist knowledge in commercial law, financial and international tax matters, Ralph Ertner specialises in Immigration and Black Empowerment Law and contributes his energy and expertise to the benefit of INTO SA’s corporate clients in sub-Saharan Africa.
Ralph Ertner is author of eight books on legal investment conditions in South Africa, among them Tax Law: A Guideline for Investors and Investing in South Africa Opportunities and Risks in the 21st Century. Furthermore is he the author of several articles in the national and international media. He is a past member of the Regional Council of the South African German Chamber of Commerce in Cape Town and currently Director of the Austrian Business Chamber and the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Johannesburg as well as the Founder and Past President of various Rotary Clubs.