South Africa could begin importing electricity and coal for its coal power plants from Mozambique and Botswana to compensate for its own power shortages, Reuters and Mineweb reported earlier this week.
Once a net exporter of electricity to sub-Saharan African countries, South Africa’s state-owned power utility Eskom, is now struggling to keep the lights on. The utility frequently resorts to controlled load shedding to prevent the national grid from being overwhelmed.
More coal power plants planned
Willem Theron, business development manager of Eskom’s southern Africa transmission group, said the utility planned to install an additional 6,250MW of coal-based power after the completion of the two coal power plants currently under construction, Medupi and Kusile.
Eskom could import some electricity from Mozambique to fill a supply gap in Africa’s most advanced economy, Theron said at coal conference on Tuesday in the Mozambique capital Maputo.
Theron explained that: “It is assumed that some of the power can be through imports.”
Imports for coal power plants a possibility
Theron said one possibility for coal and electricity imports is Mozambique, where a coal boom has cooled but mines are still being developed.
Mozambique has enough supplies to build coal power plant stations, Theron said.
Another possibility for electricity imports is neighbouring Botswana, which geologists say has huge untapped reserves, Mineweb reported.
South Africa is a major coal producer itself, both for domestic and export markets. However, plants are typically built close to mines. Imports could make sense if Botswana’s coal industry is developed and a plant was erected near the border, Mineweb reported.
South Africa is the fifth-largest coal-producing country in the world, producing an average of 224 million tones of marketable coal a year.
About 25% of this is for the export market, making South Africa the third-largest coal-exporting country.
Zambian coal power plant
In further coal news this week, Nava Bharat Ventures Ltd, a diversified organisation with interests in power generation, ferro alloys, mining and agri-business, announced on Wednesday that its step-down subsidiary Maamba Collieries’ Ltd (MCL) integrated coal and power project has reached financial close.
The Zambian coal power plant project, which is funded on a debt equity ratio of 70:30, is estimated at a total cost of $828 million, live mint reported.
Nava Bharat said: “Large international lenders group, comprising development financial institutions from South Africa and large international commercial banks from Africa and China, have participated in this limited project finance deal.”