Andre de Ruyter, CEO of Eskom of South Africa, said that the utility has an opportunity to emerge from years of crisis by shifting from coal-fired power generation to natural gas and renewables. He said: “From the crisis that Eskom currently finds itself in – very poor plant performance, excessive debt – this contains the opportunity for us to really act as the foundation for a new dispensation in South Africa. Hopefully we can persuade people to come and set up factories here, to build components for renewable energy, that will create jobs that will create demand for electricity which will turn this challenge that we have got from a vicious downward cycle into a virtuous upward cycle.”
Eskom is due to shut down about 22 GW of coal-fired power plants that are reaching the end of their life by 2035, close to half its current nominal capacity of 46 GW. It plans to replace some of that with gas and renewables, and allow IPPs to make up the shortfall.
De Ruyter said that Eskom had identified two potential gas projects: one of 3000 MW at Richards Bay, and one of 1000 MW at its retiring Komati coal plant. He said that Eskom will prioritise building transmission infrastructure to connect solar and wind power, as well as strengthening the distribution grid to accommodate more private generation.