South African Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe upped the ante in his battle to retain a plan to build more coal plants, saying a trip to court would be well worth the effort.
“I know that we’re going to end up in court for it,” he told reporters at the Africa Energy Week conference in Cape Town on Tuesday. “Everything we do you end up in court, but I think we should.”
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The former coal unionist is at the center of a fight over whether the black rock should remain part of South Africa’s future energy mix rather than more climate-friendly options. Envoys from the UK, US and the European Union flew to the country last month to offer billions of dollars in concessional loans and grants to ditch the plans for coal, though Mantashe didn’t meet them.
The construction of 1,500MW of new coal capacity has been included in South Africa’s Integrated Resources Plan and should be retained, the minister earlier told reporters. That would allow for the development of cleaner coal technology that could prolong use of the fuel, he said.
South Africa also wants to look at exploiting recent gas discoveries, though that would require fresh funding, Mantashe said.
The battle over how to increase South Africa’s energy supplies comes as coal-dependent Eskom, the state-owned electricity monopoly, initiates weeks of rolling power cuts due to generation capacity shortages.