Eskom faces emissions violations, could shut plants
Cash-strapped power utility Eskom could be forced to shut some plants if it fails to reduce emissions, its COO warned on Wednesday, raising the spectre of further blackouts.
The potential closures, which Jan Oberholzer said could cut a tenth of the state firm's 45 000 MW production capacity, piles pressure on the government which has had to bail out the debt-ridden company to keep it afloat.
Africa's biggest public utility supplies over 90% of South Africa's electricity, relying largely on ageing, heavily polluting coal-fired power stations but does not generate enough cash to meet its debt servicing costs.
It is also responsible for at least a third of the country's greenhouse gas emissions.
Installing the technology needed to reduce carbon and sulphur emissions would cost ten times the R26-billion the National Treasury has earmarked for Eskom in the financial year ending in March 2020, part of a R59-billion two-year package.
That package is on top of a R23-billion a year bailout for the next three years.
"If we were to press a button today and solve all theses (emissions) troubles, it would cost us R300-billion. But as you know we do not have money," Eskom's acting CE and chairperson Jabu Mabuzatold reporters.
Eskom has therefore applied to the Department of Environmental Affairs for rolling postponements of its obligations to meet the emissions and air standards.
"If we don't fix this and reduce our emissions, there's a risk that we have to shut down some of the power stations," Oberholzer told a press briefing. "Have we done the work we said we would? No we haven't."
Oberholzer did not say when Eskom's failure to meet emissions requirements might trigger plant closures