Johannesburg, South Africa — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 08 November 2011 – Three Greenpeace activists were arrested at the Kusile power station’s construction site in Mpumalanga for scaling a crane, reports news24.

Six activists gained entry to the site at about 10h00 on Monday and climbed a crane, said Eskom spokesperson Hilary Joffe. “We are most concerned about the safety of all on site, and cannot condone illegal entry nor the climbing of a crane,”

Greenpeace spokesperson Fiona Musana said the three had been charged with forced entry, and had been taken to the Ogies police station. By noon the police were still trying to remove the remaining activists who had gained access through the back of the site.

A group of about 20 activists demonstrated at the gates of the new power station early on Monday morning, with seven chaining themselves to the gate. They were protesting against South Africa’s reliance on the burning of coal to generate electricity, which emits greenhouse gases.

Greenpeace claimed in a recent document that Kusile’s external and hidden costs could be between R31.2 and R60.6 billion a year. The Greenpeace-commissioned “True Cost of Coal” report was compiled by the University of Pretoria and released at the end of October.

It investigated the actual costs of Kusile’s entire coal chain from climate change to water use, the impact on health, and the damaging effects of coal mining.

“Eskom is reluctant to speak with us “’ we want to hand over a memorandum with the report findings,” said Musana. “We want a just transition from coal to renewable energy, as it is a win-win situation in terms of, job creation, the climate and energy.”

Earlier Eskom welcomed a protest over cleaner energy as long as it was peaceful and did not disrupt operations.

“An important part, though, is that we don’t apologise for building two large coal-fired stations. We are a developing country with a great need for economic growth and job creation,” said Joffe. “We need a secure and affordable supply of electricity in the short and long term, and coal is part of that future.  We need to balance that supply with reducing emissions.”

Kusile is expected to add 4,800MW to the supply grid on completion in 2017, and the Medupi power station will add another 4,800KW of coal-powered energy.

The stations would use advanced technology to burn less coal for the same amount of energy, and to achieve reduced emissions. Air quality would be improved by removing oxides of sulphur from exhaust gases released into the atmosphere.