The Republic of Botswana submitted its new climate action plan to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in October 2015.

This Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) came well in advance of a new universal climate change agreement which was to be reached at the UN climate conference in Paris in December 2015. Despite the submitted climate action plan to the UN in 2015, and all the good intentions, the reality on the ground and the future forecast shows a totally different picture.

Until 2017, CO2 emissions of Botswana increased up to 7,300 tonnes per year from 3,850 tonnes per year in 2001, which is an increase of 89.6%. The increase was triggered on the one hand by the economic development of Botswana and the implementation of the coal fired power plant Morupule B, a 600 MW power block which contributed 25% of the emissions in 2014.

As CO2 emissions forecasts are not available for Botswana, we captured the existing power plant facilities and put them into a CO2 emission simulation. This simulation is not even a worst case scenario as it does not take an increase of other CO2 sources such as increase of traffic, higher industrialisation or more cattle farming into account. The scenario shown below is only reflecting the impact of the existing coal fired power plants, Morupule A and Morupule B. While Morupule B is under refurbishment for the next years, the availability of the plant will increase as well as its CO2 emissions.

Morupule A will be operational mid-2019 and will increase the CO2 emissions as well. As the power demand in the country will grow by approximately 4% per annum over the next years, both coal fired power plants already have the capacity to cater for that, CO2 emissions will continue to rise until 2031. This means that CO2 emissions will increase from now till 2031 by 19% due to the existing generation resources (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Future CO2 increase in Botswana due to coal fired power plants

In line with its Government strategy, Vision 2036, Botswana wants to utilise more of its coal resources and want to become a net exporter of power. In order to meet this objective, Botswana is considering the commissioning of an additional 300 MW coal fired power plant in 2023 (see Figure 2). This plant will work as a base load facility and will increase emissions further by 23% up to 10,593 tonnes per year in 2031.

Figure 2: Future CO2 increase in Botswana with an additional 300 MW coal block

The two scenarios show that Botswana, despite their initial effort to participate in the Paris Climate Change Agreement and its climate action plan, will not achieve its objective to reduce CO2 emissions within the next 13 years. CO2 emissions will rise, if the energy policy is not changed urgently. As a result, Botswana will contribute to the global warming in the Southern African region and the average yearly temperature will rise in the long run.

Botswana has already experienced the impacts of weather changes in the recent years. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) special report on global warming of 1.5 degree recently issued a report on the local impacts on Botswana if the average temperature only rises by 1.5% (see Figure 3).

Botswana will experience 43 days of heart waves and less rain fall. The Okavango River will have less water and the cost for pumping water for livestock will increase by 15%. People will be more exposed to heat stress.

Figure 3: Local impact of global warming on Botswana

Source: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) special report on global warming of 1.5 degree

From the above said it becomes quite obvious that the actual energy policy is not in line with the Paris Climate Change Agreement, and the action plan that was introduced in 2015. In order to reduce the CO2 emissions in Botswana, the following steps should be initiated:

  • Replacement of any future 300 MW coal fired power plant by a renewable 24/7 generation capacity.

  • Replacement and demolishment of Morupule B power plant by a 24/7 renewable power source, a pure PV Solar power plant and battery storage.

Figure 4: Future CO2 Increase Without Morupule B

The implementation of such strategy will not reduce CO2 emissions in Botswana to zero (see Figure 4), but it will make a big impact, as Morupule A power station will only operate until 2033, and CO2 emissions can be further reduced in the future.

Take Away

Botswana, with the energy policy in place, will not achieve its Climate Change Obligation agreed in the Paris Climate Change Agreement, but will increase CO2 emissions in the next 13 years.

This will impact the average temperature in Botswana and the country will face additional heat waves and less rain. As energy generation, traffic and cattle farming are the main contributor for the CO2 emissions, Botswana needs to rethink its climate action plan. Replacing coal fired power plants with renewable energy sources is one way of reducing emissions without putting too much additional burden on the consumer of electricity.

A 24/7 renewable energy is highly competitive to coal fired power plants, and the demolishment of Morupule B can be compensated by a tariff increase of 1%.


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