Weekly projects and energy updates in South Africa

Eskom's coal-fired power struggle

Eskom’s closure of five old coal-fired power stations over the next 10 years, at a loss of about 30 000 direct and indirect jobs, was foreseen more than a decade ago.

In the next five years it will close the 2000 MW Hendrina, 1600 MW Camden, 1000 MW Komati and 3000 MW Kriel power stations, spokesman Khulu Phasiwe says. A fifth station, the 1200 MW Grootvlei, will close within 10 years. Komati is the oldest of these power stations, which came on line between 1961 and 1979.

Oddly, the 40-year-old Arnot (2100 MW) is not on the closure list. Some suspect this is because the Gupta family’s Tegeta Exploration & Resources has the coal supply contract but Phasiwe says it is because there are still nearby coal resources.

Business Day, 24 March 2017

Eskom secures new deal with NamPower

On Thursday, Eskom signed a five-year firm electricity sales agreement with Namibia’s national electricity utility NamPower.

The agreement was signed at the 42nd Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) executive committee meeting in Maseru, Lesotho.

This agreement confirms Eskom's commitment to powering the SADC region and is testament to the long noble history of power trading between the sister utilities.

ESI Africa, 24 March 2017

Solar energy may get boost from Africa’s biggest oil exporter

Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil exporter, may be about to turn sunward to generate more of its power.

Senators in the capital of Abuja are debating an allocation of US$30 million to solar projects in this year’s budget, according to the Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria (REAN). They are expected to provide funding for off-grid solar projects, photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing, and transmission upgrades, according to REAN executive secretary Godwin Aigbokhan. A decision is expected by the end of this month.

“It just gives you an idea of how government sees solar as part of the total energy mix,” says Aigbokhan. The country could receive about US$2.5 billion of investments in utility-scale solar projects by 2018, he says.

Engineering News, 24 March 2017

South African Bio-energy Atlas launched to support bio-energy development

The South Africa Bio-energy Atlas, launched in Pretoria on Friday, will allow the country to identify opportunities for sustainable bio-energy and be able to achieve much more in terms of developing a “green” economy. This was affirmed by Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor in her keynote address at the launch.

"What the Bio-energy Atlas shows is that we have much higher potential for bio-energy than we ever thought," she pointed out. "The green economy allows great opportunities." These are, however, largely untapped at the moment, especially in South Africa and Africa. "We need to get off the starting line."

Engineering News, 24 March 2017

S&P stands by its “three-deep junk status” for Eskom

Eskom’s "three-deep junk status" of BB- with negative outlook remained unchanged, S&P Global Ratings said on Tuesday.

S&P said that although the government had extended Eskom’s ZAR350 billion debt guarantee until 2023, uncertainty over this was a reason the ratings agency had lowered the power utility’s credit rating further into junk territory in December - this was offset by Eskom receiving a lower than expected tariff increase.

The National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) granted Eskom a 2.2% tariff increase for its coming financial year. S&P said it had expected the increase to be 8%.

Business Day, 22 March 2017