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  • Oil & Gas - Energy
  • Updated: May 24, 2023

South Africa Considering Using Coal To Solve Energy Crisis

South Africa, which is experiencing an energy crisis, is considering whether to prolong the operational life of two of its major coal-fired power plants in order to improve energy security.

Sources with knowledge of the plans indicate that the facilities Kendal and Lethabo, which make up around a fifth of the electricity capacity of the state-owned utility Eskom, may have their lifespan extended according to Bloomberg.

The financially precarious Eskom and South Africa's attempts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, however, may face difficulties as a result of coal power plants' life extensions.

The Kendal and Lethabo power stations are now anticipated to be shut down after 2035.  

The government is currently debating whether to let the plants to continue operating longer, balancing energy security against vows to reduce emissions.

With coal making up to 80% of South Africa's energy mix, coal is by far the country's main energy source.

The nation exports coal at the fifth-largest rate in the world.

However, due to state-run utility Eskom's failure to increase generation capacity in recent years to keep up with the country's rising demand, South Africa is currently experiencing a severe energy crisis with daily rolling power interruptions that are crippling the economy.  

The South African government has lately begun to push for increased production of renewable energy. 

The first call for proposals for the largest renewable energy programme in Africa, 3,740 megawatts (MW), was released by South Africa last month.

“The release of this Phase One RFP comes at an opportune moment, with government remaining steadfast in eradicating the electricity and water supply challenges, and the rampant landfill shortages our country continues to face,” South Africa’s Public Works Minister Sihle Zikalala said in a statement at the time as carried by Bloomberg.

The United States supports South Africa's transition to cleaner energy, and Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen stated at the beginning of the year that the country will help mobilise money from the private sector to boost the coal-dependent nation. 

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Lawrence Agbo
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