Eskom needs to move away from coal, desperately and as soon as possible. It’s trying its hardest. Well, ‘hardest’ might be an overstatement. But it’s trying. There are currently around twenty projects in the works aimed at making South Africa greener, with plans to bring back a 1.5GW hydropower plant project that was shelved more than a decade ago.
The proposal to revive the project was included in South Africa’s ‘Just Energy Transition Investment Plan’. A deal which South Africa signed last week that’ll bring $8.5 billion in to fund the move away from our coal dependency. The project covers a 1.5GW Pumped Hydro storage facility that allows it to generate power, at will, from water-powered turbines.
Projected not to be cheap
Initially, the project was put on the back burner in 2009 to allow Eskom to focus on the impending shortage of electricity. Yeah, that worked out well. It didn’t help that, at the time, Eskom was already in debt, to the tune of around R400 billion. But that’s what rich friends are for – stepping in to make the country greener.
“Where funding can be made available, Eskom will develop such projects,” said Eskom. “Where not, Eskom will look at alternate solutions, possibly using public-private partnership models.”
In total, the project is set to cost R35.9 billion, according to the now-signed Just Energy Transition Plan. Building a plant of this scope usually takes around eight years to complete, so don’t expect any extra power any time soon.