Ramokgopa’s coal-fired power station extension plan is pie in the sky

Issued by Kevin Mileham MP – DA Shadow Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy
25 Apr 2023 in News

Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites by Kevin Mileham MP.

Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa’s purported plan to extend the life of old coal-fired power stations is dead on arrival because it ignores expert warnings about their declining Energy Availability Factor (EAF) and takes the focus away from renewable energy investments, which are key in helping the country address its energy needs.

Independent energy experts have pointed out that, while the EAF for the Eskom fleet stands at 52% from January 2023 to date, the EAF for the coal fleet is only 45,6%. This means that since the beginning of the year, Eskom’s installed coal fleet has only been able to supply power at less than half of the time. Faced with this grim reality, Ramokgopa and his ANC comrades are doubling down and pushing for the extension of stations that have essentially collapsed.

The grim reality is that, even if Ramokgopa is to forge ahead and get his way with the life extension of these coal plants, Eskom simply does not have the budget to fund such an enterprise. Claiming that Eskom will use money from its recently approved tariff increase to fund the extension, is not only misleading but conveniently fails to mention that Eskom’s new budget cycle does not factor in investments in the proposes extensions.

As the ANC government fumbles its way through the electricity crisis with no clear response plan, except a timid response to extend the life of struggling coal-fired power stations, South Africa now faces the real risk of forfeiting more than R155 billion in just energy transition funds that were pledged by donor countries. Already, there have been reports of growing unease among the funding countries about the growing chorus to double down on coal burning by the ANC government.

Ramokgopa is doing exactly what his ANC comrades have been doing over the past 16 years, kicking the can down the road and refusing to accept the undeniable reality that the era of burning fossil fuels for energy is over. South Africa needs more electricity now! Extending the life of our already failing coal fleet does not address that need.