The First Biennial Update Report (2019) indicates that, in 2011, the residential, transport, and industry sectors are Botswana’s largest energy consumers at 42%, 27% and 23% respectively. In recent years, transport has overtaken the residential sector, accounting for 45% of total final consumption against 32% for residential sector. Fuel wood is also a principal energy source for cooking for 46% of national households, and 77% of rural households.
Cement and soda ash production drove the majority of industrial processes and product use (IPPU) emissions, while solid waste disposal and wastewater treatment/discharge accounted for the waste sector emissions. In the agriculture, forestry, and other land use (AFOLU) sector, livestock, aggregate sources, and non-CO₂ land emissions were the primary drivers, while land use served as a significant sink.
With estimated coal reserves of over 212 billion tonnes, Botswana has roughly 66% of Africa’s identified untapped coal reserves, and the country is actively seeking investors to exploit this significant resource potential. Coal mines currently in operation have a total annual capacity of approximately 3 million tonnes. Most of the coal is utilised for domestic use, with some being exported to South Africa, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. The country has no known petroleum reserves, and therefore imports the fuel and its products, largely from South Africa.
As of 2018, Botswana’s primary energy almost entirely consists of fossil fuels. Coal production and oil imports make up 42% and 37% of the mix respectively, while biofuels—primarily fuel wood — comprise 21% of the total supply. Similarly, the power sector is dominated by coal which accounted for 97% of the power mix in 2020, while oil contributed 2.5%., The role of renewables in the electricity mix remains insignificant.
While Botswana has started developing a comprehensive renewable energy strategy with the support of the World Bank, its current projections indicate less than 200 MW out of 1400 MW of energy will be supplied by solar power by 2025. By comparison, the same projections indicate that 1200 MW of energy will be supplied by coal by 2025.
Similarly, while the country’s Third National Communication indicates the intention to eliminate coal subsidies, Botswana aims to expand its monetisation of coal through a Coal Road Map for power generation and export, aimed at weaning off petroleum imports and leveraging the coal resources to increase exports to other countries.
In 2020, the country awarded three generation licenses for coal plants with a collective 827 MW capacity. Botswana’s state-owned coal mine recently announced intentions to increase capacity by 35%, and the national Investment and Trade Promotion Authority indicates that up to 24 new mines can be opened., Considering the broad international recognition of the need to phase out coal in the coming years, these policies pose a large risk of creating high-cost stranded assets in Botswana that will require more aggressive phase out plans in the future.