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In a quest for a carbon neutral environment, Debswana is spearheading the implementation of a grid tied solar photovoltaic plant at Debswana Corporate Centre (DCC) in Gaborone, with the aim of contributing to the reduction of the company's carbon footprint. The solar photovoltaic (PV) plant will augment day time electricity usage at DCC and as such, improve the energy usage mix of renewable and non-renewable energy.

This initiative is in line with Debswana's strategic intent of the prudent use of natural resources. In addition, this aligns with Botswana's Vision 2036 pillar on sustainable environment and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number seven, which calls for the expansion of infrastructure and upgrading of technology to provide access to sustainable and clean energy sources.

This is a step in the right direction in answering the ever-increasing global call for governments, companies and individuals to use clean energy systems. In so doing, Debswana will be contributing to the fight against climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions whose adverse effects are apparent worldwide.

Project Engineer – Electrical, Karabo Mmokwa says when completed, the plant will generate 400kW per month, equivalent to about 80 percent of DCC's current power requirements.

"As such, we will increase energy efficiency and reduce our usage from the national power grid from which we currently tap 462kW, that being the maximum power demand that the DCC requires monthly," Mmokwa explains.

Mmokwa says by harnessing the sun, reliance on power supply from the Botswana Power Corporation is cut by 80 percent, which translates to a huge cutback on Debswana's carbon footprint.

"That is the main objective of this project," he explains. "It is the first of its kind and magnitude in the mining sector in Botswana. We aim to improve the DCC's energy mix, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce grid consumption."

One of the project's unique features is that it creates opportunities for skills transfer, which according to Mmokwa is essential for greater innovation as Batswana make advances into a largely untapped world of solar technology.

In line with the Government's call for greater citizen economic empowerment, the DCC Solar PV Plant project has created opportunities by engaging qualified local contractors in the design and installation of the turnkey PV system.

Industry experts agree that climate change is a harsh reality which if it continues unchecked will result in irreversible damage to the planet. "In Botswana, solar is the best renewable energy option for where we are located geographically," Mmokwa says. "We plan to roll out this project within other Debswana sites and we hope it will ultimately be used a benchmark by other companies."

A PV system relies on energy from the sun using an intricate system composed of one or more solar panels that relay energy from the sun's rays to an inverter combined with other mechanical hardware to generate electricity.

Nestled within the DCC campus and connected to the building's power supply point, the novel DCC Solar PV Plant is anticipated to go online towards the end of 2021.