Eskom considers delaying closure of three coal-fired plants

Camden power station, Mpumalanga, South Africa. Image from Eskom.

Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., South Africa’s state-owned power utility, is considering delaying the closure of three of its oldest coal-fired power plants by several years to maintain generation capacity.

The company, which produces almost all of South Africa’s power, wants to push back the closure of the Grootvlei, Camden and Hendrina power plants until as late as 2030, according to documents it submitted to the Centre for Environmental Rights after a request was made under an access to information law. Eskom didn’t immediately respond to a request for further comment.

Eskom produces about 95% of South Africa’s power, and most of it comes from its 15 coal-fired plants

“Due to present capacity constraints and in order to allow opportunity for other stations to undertake maintenance it has been decided to continue with the operations of Grootvlei, Camden, Hendrina with station shut-down occurring by 2030,” Eskom said in the documents. “Investigations in respect of this are underway.”

The decision will raise further concerns about South Africa’s commitment to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. Eskom produces about 95% of South Africa’s power, and most of it comes from its 15 coal-fired plants. South Africa’s greenhouse-gas emissions match those of the U.K., which has an economy eight times larger, and there are also high levels of sulfur dioxide and particulate matter emissions.

South Africa has been hit by regular power cuts since 2008 as Eskom struggles to produce enough electricity.

The three plants have the capacity to produce about 4,600 megawatts of power, accounting for about 10% of the utility’s generation capacity. Eskom had planned to close their operating units down between 2020 and 2026, according to the CER. They were built in the 1960s and 1970s.

(By Antony Sguazzin)

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