Eskom’s 3,000 MW Kriel power station in Mpumalanga has been found to be operating outside of its licencing conditions, but should these be applied strictly and the utility is forced to shut down five of its six units at the station until 2017, the risks of blackouts in South Africa are greatly heightened. It is unlikely that such a scenario will be played out with the strict enforcement of the licencing conditions.

Andrew Etzinger, Eskom spokesperson says, that the utility is asking for a variation of the current licence agreement for a couple of years for the necessary technology upgrades to be made to the power station. It would be a cost of R7 billion.

South Africa’s department of Water and Environmental Affairs says it has been advising Eskom about legal provisions that could be used to postpone its compliance with emission standards for Kriel. The department says if Eskom or any other company applied for the postponement of its compliance time frames, its minimum emissions limits could be postponed for five years. However, there was no option for companies to get full exemption from requirements to comply with their licence.