Good news has been in short supply at Eskom, so it’s welcome to hear that the massive shortage in coal supply that the utility said was a probability from 2018 now looks to be less likely.
Unfortunately, this is cold comfort. One of the reasons the so-called ‘coal supply cliff ’ won’t materialise is down to the fact that South Africa’s economic growth is slowing and electricity demand is expected to fall beneath previous growth rate estimates.
At the same time, Eskom has also met with some success in its efforts to secure new sources of coal despite saying that there wasn’t enough new investment in the sector. In fact, a significant amount of uncontracted coal had been identified and was in “various stages of negotiation”.
That’s according to Vusi Mboweni, acting executive of Eskom’s primary energy division, who also said that coal would remain as central to the country’s energ y generation as it ever was, regardless of the push towards renewable and nuclear forms of energy.
Speaking at the IHS Energy South African Export Coal Conference 2015 earlier t his month, Mboweni said that coal was currently “the dominant resource” for electricity production in SA. “There had been a lot of talk about this coal cliff that Eskom was facing,” he said. “This trend [of increased coal usage] is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.”
Quite what this means for the redraft of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), a blueprint for SA’s energy mix in the future, is up for conjecture.
Initially written to ensure an increase in the amount of energy sourced from renewable energy sources, as well as nuclear, the new IRP, which is yet to