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Eskom is pushed to quit coal even as new plants being built

Shifting to transmission from coal would require a massive overhaul at Eskom.

Eskom should quit coal-fired generation over the next 20 years, Greenpeace Africa said, even as the beleaguered South African power utility presses ahead with new plants.

Such a shift would require a massive overhaul at Eskom since coal-fed power is the backbone of its fleet, with two new stations currently under construction. But the debt-strapped utility, which supplies more than 90% of South Africa’s electricity, is under fire from environmental groups who claim it’s far from ready for the global transition to cleaner fuels.

Read: Why government is being sued

“Eskom’s reform is almost laughably overdue,” Happy Khambule, Greenpeace Africa’s senior political adviser, said in a statement. “The utility is technically insolvent, inefficient, unable to guarantee security of supply, wildly unprepared for an energy transition to renewable energy and is the country’s biggest emitter of toxic pollutants and greenhouse gases.”

Eskom didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The Johannesburg-based utility, saddled with more than $30 billion of debt, is seeking major bailouts from a government that doesn’t have the money to spare. The demands of steering the troubled company prompted Chief Executive Officer Phakamani Hadebe to quit last month, after just 16 months in the post.

Read: South Africa sued for Eskom, Sasol air pollution in coal belt

Mapping out a potential path for the utility, Greenpeace called on Eskom to retire coal-fired stations more than 40 years old and sell the remainder by 2040. The company should focus on transmission and distribution, it said, urging South Africa to hold additional independent power-producer auctions for renewable projects. A 2003 proposal to set up six regional electricity distributors should also be revived, it said.

Eskom said earlier this year that it’s decided to complete units at the new Medupi and Kusile plants, despite discovering defects that will bump up costs that already top R300 billion ($20.3 billion).

To be sure, Eskom will be forced to shut some ageing coal-fired plants over the next decade, losing more than a quarter of its generating capacity. Replacing that output and adding capacity needed to meet rising demand in Africa’s most industrialised economy will take years and cost more than R1 trillion, according to the government.

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Thanks Greenpeace, will do.

You pay.

Greenpeace and the EFF both have very strong opinions about how government policy should be changed with no real indication of how they envisage it can be done besides just doing it. If Happy can show me their calculations about how this will impact ordinary South Africans in their pockets or how Eskom can change to renewable energy, I will be Happy.

The risk of climate change due to excessive carbon dioxide being released could be catastrophic, or extremely disruptive. That price will be paid widely, but it’s hard to envisage over a 5-10 year period. Human beings are bad at dealing with risks like this, so they revert to looking at it in terms of what it will cost them personally over the short term. It’s why this issue is something that needs to be dealt with by governments, with a long-term approach to planning.

Fossil fuel companies have been fueling all the denialism, often using social media, to boost their profits, but you can bet your bottom dollar that when the regional impacts of climate change become clearer, they’ll look after themselves and their families and make sure they’re well protected.


Last power station (Kendal) was commissioned in 1992. Population then was about 37 million people. Since then no power stations have been commissioned but population increased by 50% to about 57 million.

The two power stations the ANC is trying to build might not be finished by 2040. The others will all be older than 40 years (as mentioned above) by 2032 and many a lot earlier. What then? At best if the two are finished and limping along it will have installed power of maybe 7000MW. At current population growth the population will be around 71 million.

The foresight from this lot is scary.

Seems pretty clear that the ANC’s planning abilities are just terrible.

Then they tell you that their problem isn’t planning, it’s execution.

My goodness, that’s even worse?

This is a rudderless ship, amply evidenced by the 12 CEO’s and boards in nearly all the SOE’ in the past 10 years.

We are going nowhere at the moment, and getting somewhere is in the hands of people who’ve led the country nowhere for the best part of the last 15 years.

How far away can the Moody’s downgrade be?

What upsets me is the fact that Greenpeace wants to prescribe to sa to change useless eskom to just distribution of electricity that must then be generated via “renewable projects”. Renewable projects is an excellent idea but won’t be able to produce enough electricity for south africa on its own.- hopefully greenpeace’s renewable projects idea does not include nuclear power stations – very effective, but with most highly skilled people out of south africa it will be far too risky.

another double standard: sa must get renewable power sources / stop using any plastics / pays pollution tax built into the fuel price/ pays sugar tax etc etc whilst most of the countries that are prescribing to us are guilty to the same sin but don’t shout that out loud and clear – example: australia exports its plastic rubbish to another country,problem solved – usa laugh in the greenpeace’s face.
Nice to prescribe to somebody else, while directly /indirectly our greenpeace friends are utilizing the exact same product to make a living.

Our only long term power solution is a combination of sun, wind, hydro and traditional power stations – if somebody can create a non-polluting power station powered by the ocean’s high and low tide flow we will have abundant free generated electricity by mother nature herself – won’t be surprised if such technology already exists, but is prevented by current power source providers.

The Chinese will never let Eskom give up coal. They need a dumping ground for their own coal reserves. I wonder if the loan they had previously agreed to is conditional to still operating coal driven electricity?

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