Discussions have already started with development finance institutions like the World Bank and the African Development Bank, a senior Eskom official told Reuters.
“That’s a lot of money, so what we’re putting on the table is saying to donors: South Africa can offer you the biggest point source of carbon emission reductions in the world.” said Mandy Rambharos, Managing Director of Eskom’s Just Energy Transition. Office.
Eskom, which produces more than 90% of the country’s electricity primarily by burning coal, seeks about $ 7 to $ 8 for every tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent it cuts from its greenhouse gas emissions. Eskom currently emits around 213 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year.
The idea is to align some of the funding before the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in November. The utility is already considering “repowering” its Komati coal-fired power plant using solar power and battery storage and could present the project to COP26 to show it is committed to reducing emissions.
Rambharos said Eskom was modeling different scenarios to meet its “net zero” emissions target by 2050.
The less aggressive path is the one the government laid out in a 2019 document called the Integrated Resource Plan, which envisioned Eskom shutting down some 35,000 megawatts (MW) of coal by 2050. As of March 2020, Eskom had approximately 41,000 MW of installed coal. -fire capacity.
A bolder one would even see Medupi and Kusile, which will be two of the world’s largest coal-fired power plants when fully operational, shut down in the 2040s, at least 20 years ahead of schedule and leave Eskom coal-free by 2050. from 15 stations now.
While Eskom could use natural gas as part of its energy transition, the ultimate goal is to replace coal with renewable energy, Rambharos said. “This is the future. I don’t think we can look to 2050 and still see fossil fuels there to be honest.”
Analysts have pointed to the carbon intensity of South Africa’s economy as a major risk as investors and governments become increasingly sensitive to climate concerns, and Rambharos said it was time to act.
“We will be left in this little bubble where we will not be able to export our wine, our fruit or our cars if we do not make the transition,” she said. “The whole world is in transition, we need to jump on the bandwagon – for South Africa to remain competitive and our economy to grow.” (Alexander Winning report edited by Mark Potter)