Medupi Power Plant
State-owned Medupi coal-fired Power Plant in Limpopo

In South Africa, several companies are waiting approval from the Department of Energy to develop the country’s first privately-owned coal-fired power stations, a report by the Sunday Times suggested.

According to media, the DoE has plans to approve 2,500MW of coal-fuelled power during the first round of approvals, which is expected to take place this month.

The first round includes applications that were submitted in November 2015.

Coal industry expert, Xavier Prevost said: “It’s really a mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly.”

Coal-fired plant: Department of Energy’s criteria

According to MyBroadband, the DoE has implemented several minimum requirements for the potential power projects.

They need to be 51% South African-owned, and 30% black-owned.

Groundwork SA director, Bobby Peek, voiced concerns around the potential health risks for nearby communities should the projects be pushed through in terms of environmental approvals.

He added that the country was already exceeding its greenhouse gas emission targets and this figure will continue to rise should more coal-fired power stations be developed.

Medupi background

In May last year, the first unit of state-owned power utility Eskom’s coal-fired power station Medupi Unit 6, reached a new output level of 735MW.

In March, the Limpopo province-based Medupi’s Unit 6 began producing its first power, the first of the six units to be connected to the national grid.

Eskom said at the time that the unit was synchronised and connected to the national power grid in such a way that its power was perfectly aligned with all the other generators to generate and deliver electricity into the national power grid.

At the time of breaking the news, former Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona said that this was the final stage towards reaching full commercial power.

Matona said: “The electricity flowing into the grid marks a new beginning. Within the next three months, South Africa will see Medupi Unit 6’s full potential of 794MW being fed into the South African national grid. I congratulate Team Medupi for their efforts in achieving this important milestone for South Africa.”