Ramaphosa's bizarre power plan

South African environmental activists and sector experts were left scratching their heads last week after Ramaphosa's announcement to build a power station in Limpopo.

10 September 2018 | International

The list of investment deals and agreements punted by President Cyril Ramaphosa after his state visit to China this week includes a hugely improbable plan to build another new 4 600 megawatt coal power station in Limpopo.

In a statement this week listing the achievements of the trip, the presidency said a number of Chinese projects in the Musina-Makhado special economic zone (SEZ) “have been prioritised for implementation”.

These are “a 4 600MW coal-fired plant, a cement plant and other metallurgical projects”.

This came only a week after Energy Minister Jeff Radebe revealed the long-awaited new Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), charting the future of energy investments in South Africa – a future conspicuously lacking in major new coal stations.



Legally impossible

It is legally impossible to build power stations in South Africa unless they correspond to the IRP's forecasts of power needs, costs and emissions.

Section 34 of the Electricity Regulation Act calls for the minister of energy to make ministerial determinations for specific investments – based on the IRP.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) confirmed the presidency's statement and sent City Press its own summary of memorandums of agreement struck in China, with a more detailed list of the “priority” projects.

Among these, it lists the “Power China International Energy Project in Musina-Makhado SEZ”.

“The aim is to invest in the construction and operation of a 4 600MW coal-fired plant. This is a six-year project construction period,” reads the DTI summary.

Asked about the conflict between this plan and the IRP, the DTI responded that “the Limpopo province is compiling comprehensive inputs on the draft IRP report that is currently out for public comments”.

“The inputs will include a request to include the proposed investment.”

“It is also important to note that, the proposed power station is not only based on the connection to the grid, but the internal supply of the SEZ,” said the DTI.

“No one seems to know what this is about,” said Robyn Hugo, an attorney at the Centre for Environmental Rights.

The centre is already fighting tooth and nail against two small 500MW coal stations that Radebe is trying to force into the IRP through a policy adjustment that deviates from the technically best and cheapest investment path, relying on renewables and gas.

The announcement was completely “whacko”, said energy analyst and publisher Chris Yelland.

“Some people live in an alternative universe with alternative logic and regulations,” he joked.

“It is just not possible.”

Even if the planned power station was going to be privately owned, and only supply power to the surrounding companies in the SEZ, this would be illegal as Eskom is, by law, the monopoly buyer of electricity in South Africa, said Yelland.

Even if you somehow got around that, private power still has to accord with the IRP to get a licence from the National Energy Regulator of SA – and it has to accord with South Africa's climate change commitments under the Paris Accord, he said.

That means that the Chinese investors and the Limpopo provincial government would have to convince the department of energy to massively defiate from the cleanest and cheapest IRP to make the station happen.

Ironically, Ramaphosa and his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, signed an agreement to cooperate on climate change alongside the memorandum of understanding to build a major new coal power station.



Coal 3

The size of the supposedly planned new power station is the same as the Medupi and Kusile power stations, which are both still under construction with only some units contributing to the grid.

Ten years ago, when the Medupi and Kusile stations were taking off, there had been a plan to build a third new giant coal station which was only ever called Coal 3.

In the past decade, a combination of stagnating power demand and the falling costs of renewable power have, however, eliminated all coal from the future power plans.

The Musina SEZ, where the plant is supposed to be built, has been years in the making and is intended to be a coal and metals hub, based on the presence of a viable hard coking coal deposit.

Coking coal is used in metallurgy and is rare in South Africa, where most coal is of a lower quality, suited to thermal power stations.

A “prefeasibility” briefing document – available on the dti's website and dated May 2014 – mentions a 1 329MW coal power station, but not a 4 600MW one.

NEWS24

Similar News

 

Genocide negotiations 'too slow'

1 day - 16 July 2019 | International

In Germany there is no doubt about the suffering that imperial Germany caused Namibians, says Daniel Günther, the president of the Bundesrat of the Federal...

Sudan transition deals sees delays

2 days ago - 15 July 2019 | International

Thousands of Sudanese protesters have poured onto the streets of Khartoum and other cities to mark the 40th day since the deadly dispersal of a...

US 'concentration camps'

2 days ago - 15 July 2019 | International

United States Vice-president Mike Pence visited an overcrowded migrant camp in Texas on Friday, coming face to face with detainees held in horrific conditions, and...

Call for Libyan ceasefire

1 week ago - 08 July 2019 | International

The UN Security Council called on Friday for a ceasefire in Libya as the death toll from a three-month offensive on Tripoli reached 1 000,...

Botswana govt to appeal gay rights ruling

1 week ago - 08 July 2019 | International

Botswana's government will appeal a June high court ruling that decriminalised homosexuality, the attorney-general said on Friday.Abraham Keetshabe, the government's chief legal advisor, said he...

New hope for Sudan

1 week ago - 08 July 2019 | International

Talks between Sudan's ruling generals and protest leaders, held after weeks of standoff following a deadly crackdown on protesters, entered a second day Thursday with...

Toddler rape sparks protest

1 week ago - 08 July 2019 | International

Thousands of protesters marched in Yangon on Saturday as outrage over the rape of a two-year-old spilled onto the streets following a viral online campaign...

Looking for El Chapo's billions

1 week ago - 08 July 2019 | International

Prosecutors on Friday said they were seeking US$12.7 billion from convicted Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman, based on a conservative estimate of revenues...

SA govt to review single-use plastic policy

1 week ago - 08 July 2019 | International

The SA government is reviewing its policy on single-use plastics and intends to complete this process by the end of this financial year.In a written...

23% of NDF soldiers women

3 weeks ago - 25 June 2019 | International

With 23% representation, Namibia is amongst the SADC countries with the highest proportion of women in its defence force.This is according to deputy prime minister...

Latest News

Keeping up with the neighbours

3 hours ago | Economics

LuandaYou would need around US$2 535.97 in Windhoek to maintain the same standard of living that you can have with US$7 600 in Luanda, assuming...

88 schoolgirls fall pregnant in...

3 hours ago | Education

Eighty-eight learners, including two girls in Grade 7, fell pregnant in the Oshana Region during the first term of 2019. Oshana governor Elia Irimari...

Stop blaming Aawambo - Kapofi

3 hours ago | Government

Home affairs minister Frans Kapofi has cautioned against tribalism and pointed out that there is a growing perception that only the Aawambo are beneficiaries of...

Mom begs for mercy

3 hours ago | Justice

A mother of three minor children is asking the High Court to reduce her four-year prison sentence, or fine her instead, after she pleaded guilty...

Relevant IFRS themes: Anytime, anywhere

3 hours ago | Business

A good understanding of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) is crucial to the financial reporting process of IFRS reporters. Banks and Insurers in particular have...

Standard Bank faces strike vote

3 hours ago | Labour

ELVIRA HATTINGH Members of the Bank Workers Union of Namibia (Bawon) are to vote on whether to strike...

Let us tread carefully

3 hours ago | Opinion

When expectations are not met, citizens wronged in this regard should have channels, means and ways to air their grievances and have them addressed effectively.In...

Big banks target South Africa's...

3 hours ago | Business

Emma Rumney - South Africa's biggest banks are betting cut-price accounts, big mortgages and offers on everything from Adidas backpacks to Xboxes will help them...

Zim inflation almost doubles, stirring...

3 hours ago | Economics

MacDonald Dzirutwe and Karin Strohecker - Prices of cooking oil and other basics soared in Zimbabwe as inflation nearly doubled in June, piling pressure on...

Load More