South Africa must improve its coal-fired energy vegetation somewhat than deal with renewable power, in response to a sanctioned Russian billionaire who made his fortune partly from producing electrical energy utilizing the gas.
“The precedence for the nation needs to be first to repair and modernise the prevailing fleet of energy vegetation as a result of that’s quick, that’s low-cost and it permits on the identical time to have an affordable worth of electrical energy,” Andrey Melnichenko stated in an interview final week at a lodge in Irene, north of Johannesburg.
South Africa’s grid is concentrated within the northeast of the nation, the place its coal-fired electrical energy vegetation, which recurrently break down, are positioned. In the meantime, there’s little capability within the provinces the place photo voltaic and wind assets are available. The nation makes use of the dirtiest gas to generate 80% of its electrical energy.
Melnichenko, the founding father of Suek JSC, stated modernising or repairing the state energy utility’s 14 coal-fired vegetation can be cheaper and more practical, including to a debate that’s raging in Africa’s most-developed nation. Whereas President Cyril Ramaphosa has backed the drive for extra photo voltaic and wind energy, others in his authorities together with Vitality Minister Gwede Mantashe, a former coal-mine union chief, have decried the push to transition to inexperienced power.
“There’s no electrical energy for six hours per day,” stated Melnichenko, who’s value about $13 billion. “Through which century are you dwelling in?” he added within the interview, which was briefly interrupted by an influence reduce earlier than the lodge’s mills began up.
Melnichenko is certainly one of various prosperous Russian enterprise leaders who’ve been sanctioned by the European Union and the US within the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Whereas on his go to to South Africa, the tycoon — who additionally based fertilizer firm EuroChem Group — met authorities officers to debate impediments to Russian exports of crop vitamins.
Learn: Russian Tycoon Urges Africa to Press EU on Fertilizer Snarl
Russia’s fleet of coal-fired vegetation are comparable in age to these in South Africa, but they keep a extra constant circulate of energy, in response to Melnichenko. South Africa and Russia’s coal-fired vegetation are, on common, many years outdated.
South Africa has had greater than 200 days of energy cuts this 12 months, hindering financial development and stoking criticism of the federal government.
Learn: SA passes 200 days of energy cuts as 2022 attracts to an in depth
Eskom stated it wants R72 billion ($4.2 billion) over the subsequent 5 years to increase the grid. Further funding will probably be required to attach 53 gigawatts of unpolluted power capability by 2032 as coal vegetation shut down.
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