(Reuters) – South Africa is accelerating plans for 3 gigawatts (GW) of gas-fired power generation to help to plug an energy deficit that is hurting the economy, electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramakgopa said on Sunday.
Africa’s most developed economy is facing daily power cuts because of regular breakdowns at state power utility Eskom’s ageing coal-fired plants, with officials saying that up to 6 GW of new generating capacity is required to end rolling blackouts.
Part of the government’s plans to increase generation include a 2 GW mobile facility and a 1 GW plant near Coega, in the Eastern Cape, Ramakgopa said, adding that the government was at the procurement stage for the projects.
“One of the things receiving priority is around the 3,000 megawatts of gas. As you know gas, from an emissions standpoint, is a step down compared to coal, so it’s important we accelerate that,” Ramakgopa said.
The South African government’s original plans for a 3 GW gas-fired power plant in Richards Bay on the east coast were opposed by environmental groups calling for acceleration of renewable energy projects in line with a global shift away from polluting fossil fuels.
Ramakgopa said in June that South Africa expects more than 5.5 GW of new renewable energy projects to come online by 2026.
South Africa is also seeking to extend to life of its 40-year-old 1.94 GW Koeberg nuclear plant by 20 years beyond its scheduled shutdown next year.
(Reporting by Nelson Banya; Editing by David Goodman)