South Africa: The endless coal conundrum and the $8.5bn plan to remove it

By Gaëlle Arenson
Posted on Tuesday, 15 November 2022 11:45

Coal-fired power plant in Metsimaholo, 100 km from Johannesburg, on June 23, 2018. ©GULSHAN KHAN/The New York Times-REDUX-REA

The continent's most polluting economy must reduce its dependence on coal while continuing to provide electricity to its people.

For South Africa, 2022 has been an annus horribilis, at least in terms of energy. The country has never experienced such major load shedding (up to eight hours of blackouts a day), due to a fleet of antiquated coal-fired power plants. Eskom, the state-owned electricity company, has been plagued by non-payment, poor governance, predatory behaviour and is burdened with a debt of R392.1bn (€22.1bn).