Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Swaziland scales down plan for power supply

October 14 2009

Swaziland no longer plans to build a 1 000-megawatts power plant to cut its reliance on imported electricity and boost supply in the region, but may opt for a smaller one instead, its power company said on Tuesday.

The land-locked country currently produces 70 MW of power from hydro plants with the remainder of its demand of 200 MW met by imports from neighbouring South Africa.

Media reports said the small country of 1.1 million people wanted to reduce its reliance on South Africa, especially in the face of fast rising tariffs in the continent's biggest economy.

Swaziland Electricity Company (SEC) said it still plans to build a coal-fired plant, but on a much smaller scale.

"Swaziland intends building a significantly scaled down plant capacity ... the feasibility study will indicate the optimal plant size," it said in an emailed response to questions.

"SEC wants to invest in a power station in order to mitigate power supply risks as well as to mitigate tariff hikes."

The company declined to elaborate on why plans for the bigger plant, which would have allowed it to export power to its neighbours, were scrapped. But it said that the coal reserves needed to power the new plant were "considerable".

A source of finance for the project would be identified after the completion of a feasibility study, it said.