A project led by the air quality team of consultant Mott MacDonald is establishing the first internationally compliant air quality and meteorology monitoring network in Botswana.
The scheme, for the government and state-owned electricity producer Botswana Power Corporation (BPC), is funded by the World Bank and Mott MacDonald is supported by Bureau Veritas, the current management unit of the UK air quality network.
Botswana is undergoing rapid economic expansion and the Government is concentrating on satisfying a fast-growing electricity demand. Power is produced by the BPC-operated 132MW Morupule A coal-fired power plant and development of a 600MW expansion, Morupule B, is underway.
The Department of Waste Management & Pollution Control (DWMPC) is responsible for regulating the plants, which are close to areas of population, but air quality monitoring in Botswana has historically been constrained by funding limitations. Anticipating the Morupule expansion, BPC and DWMPC looked for support to design, procure, establish and maintain new monitoring networks.
The project will run for nearly three years and comprises six key tasks. New national emission limit values (ELV) for coal-fired power stations and ambient air quality standards (AQS) have been developed, providing a basis against which to assess future compliance and to set goals for protecting human health. Monitoring networks have been designed and equipment specified following site visits and dispersion modelling. However, the environment in Botswana presents several challenges: Naturally high dust levels can cause damage to equipment, access to an electricity supply is required and data transmission relies on the availability of telecommunications on site. Given the high costs of equipment and often-isolated nature of the sites, security is also important and those factors had to be considered when selecting sites, which represent a range of public exposure levels inside and outside the power stations’ zone of influence.
BPC and DWMPC need assistance to procure equipment through an open tender process and install it. Staff will be trained in data collection and equipment maintenance.
After 12 months of air quality monitoring, a database of ambient air quality, meteorological and operational data from the Morupule A power plant and other local air pollution sources will have been established. This will be used to recalibrate initial dispersion modelling, prior to a detailed review of any discrepancies between monitored results and the ELV and AQS. Where required abatement solutions will be recommended to comply with the values and standards.
BPC and DWMPC staff will be trained to maintain monitoring and laboratory equipment, atmospheric dispersion, enforce AQS and ELV and the disseminate air quality information. And the end result? The programme will equip BPC and DWMPC with the skills and equipment to ensure that air quality does not suffer as Botswana’s economy grows.