Eskom’s big plan to shut down and transform power stations in South Africa – and how much it’s going to cost

 ·30 Nov 2022

Eskom plans to decommission and repurpose coal-fired power plants at Camden, Hendrina, and Grootvlei at an estimated $2.6 billion (R44 billion) for the three.

This follows the government decommissioning and repurposing of its oldest power station Komati in Mpumalanga, with the help of a $497 million (R9 billion) concessional loan facility from the World Bank.

Responding to a parliamentary Q&A, the minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, said that the repurposing of coal-fired stations is in line with Eskom’s Just Energy Transition Strategy to shift toward green energy.

“Repurposing of the retired capacity will mean replacement with renewable generation capacity while considering the economic, social, and environmental challenges of the transition,” said Gordhan.

In the next 10 years up to the end of 2032, seven stations, including Komati, are expected to be fully shut down, with units at a further two stations ending operation, said Gordhan. Eskom does not yet have clear-cut plans for these stations, however.

He added that funding for further shutdowns is anticipated to come from a combination of development finance institutions, climate funds and the private sector.

Serving since 1961, the Komati Power Station marked the beginning of a shift away from ageing coal-fired fleets when it was officially shut down late last month on 31 October – removing a final 114MW from the grid.

Plans for Komati

The $497 million loan facility granted to Eskom has a capital repayment grace period of five years and then gradually paid off over the remaining 15 years of the total 20 years.

Eskom plans to replace the coal station with 150MW of solar photovoltaic, 70MW wind generating capacity, 150MW for a battery energy storage system and a synchronous condenser.

Even with these new panels and renewable systems in place, Eskom noted that it does not expect that the shutting down of the coal stations could be replaced on a one-to-one basis by repowering and repurposing with renewables.

“The responsibility of ensuring adequate capacity lies with the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE), and those plans are reflected in the latest Integrated Resource Plan (IRP 2019),” said Gordhan.

Gordhan said that through the financial assistance of the loan, Eskom will also repower the station and other elements of the Just Energy Transition, including provision for the training of Eskom employees, community development and stakeholder initiatives.

Shifting away from coal has raised the eyebrows of those who bank on still being a reliable and plentiful power supply. Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe said that moving to renewables will require a careful balancing act informed by the country’s circumstances at the time, capabilities and necessity for energy security.

Earlier this month, finance minister Enoch Godongwana said that the country’s energy transition would not be a full-scale abandonment of existing electricity sources – but rather a phasing out over time.

Read: Eskom’s 32% price hike decision pushed to December

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter