South Africa’s state-owned power utility Eskom is accelerating plans for 3 GW of gas-fired power generation to help to fill an energy deficit that is damaging the economy. The announcement was made by electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramakgopa during a press briefing on 5 November. Eskom is also seeking to extend the life of its 40-year-old 1.94 GW Koeberg nuclear power plant by 20 years beyond its scheduled shutdown next year. Mr Ramakgopa had announced in June that the government expects more than 5.5 GW of new renewable energy projects to come online by 2026.
South Africa’s economy, the continent’s most developed, is suffering daily power cuts owing to regular breakdowns at Eskom's ageing coal-fired plants. Officials are saying that up to 6 GW of new generating capacity is required to end the rolling blackouts.
Part of the government's plans to increase generation include a 2 GW mobile facility, and a 1 GW plant to be located near Coega, in the Eastern Cape. The government is currently at the procurement stage for the two projects, and regards both as high priority investments.
The government's original plan was for a 3 GW gas-fired power plant in Richards Bay on the east coast, but these were opposed by environmental groups calling for acceleration of renewable energy projects in line with the global shift away from fossil fuels.
Image: Eskom is seeking to extend the life of its 40-year-old Koeberg nuclear power plant by 20 years beyond its scheduled shutdown in 2024 (courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)