Following the rejection of Eskom’s application to allow the entity to pollute more than what is legally permitted by the Department of Environmental Affairs, Eskom has issued a warning that the country could face Stage 8 blackouts with immediate effect and charge 30% more for electricity in 2022. As a result, about 16,000 megawatts will be taken off the grid should they comply with the Department’s decision. furthermore, postponement applications for power stations Majuba, Tutuka, Kendal, and Kriel were partially granted.
Eskom had applied for exemptions from minimum air-quality standards including its Sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter emissions for two power stations in Limpopo, Matimba, and Medupi, which make up approximately one-third of the company’s total generating capacity. However, the Department outrightly rejected the request. Stage 8 load-shedding implementations mean that the country would continuously experience over 12 hours of no power, negatively affecting households and businesses.
Eskom’s compliance with the requirements set out by the Department would require a drastic price increase for electricity. The reason for the price hike lies in the costs that Eskom would incur for installing flue-gas desulphurization technology which would reduce harmful emissions, which will cost each power station R30 billion and R300 billion overall. Eskom estimates that they would have to add 10% on the 20% of tariffs the company has already requested with the national energy regulator for the 2022/2023 financial year bringing the total increase to 30%.
Deidre Herbst, Eskom Senior Manager told news outlet eNCA that Eskom has appealed the decision and has asked for remediation. She further added that Eskom ‘Hopes to engage with the DMRE [Department of Mineral Resources], and the DPE [Department of Public Enterprises], and the DFFE [Department of Fisheries, and the Environment]. And find a balanced solution which improves and reduces the impact on health but also addresses the financial burden that this will create and ensures that we can have a just energy transition.’
South Africa has recently entered a long-term partnership with France, Germany, the US, and the UK called the Just Energy Transition, which aims to decarbonize South Africa’s economy. The partnership will ‘support South Africa to move from coal and to accelerate its transition to a low emission, climate resilient economy.’
Herbst further stated that Eskom should focus on adding new renewable electricity capacity instead of using solutions such as desulphurization technology for stations that will likely shut down in the next ten to fifteen years.
This is worrisome news for South African citizens as Eskom has been rolling out scheduled blackouts for over ten years and with this announcement it shows no end in sight. With electricity prices on the rise, home and business owner are sure to feel the pinch in 2022.