News / Africa

South Africa's Coal-Fired Power Plant Advances

South Africa's Coal-Fired Power Plant Advancesi
X
June 10, 2012 12:23 AM
Last Friday (June 8th), South African president Jacob Zuma visited the Madupi power station construction site, which will become, once completed, the fourth biggest coal-fired power station in the world. The power-station is part of a 343 billions rands project aimed at building new power-stations across the country, and a try to relieve power shortages that South Africa has been facing as its economy grows. Emilie IOB reports.

South Africa's Coal-Fired Power Plant Advances

While the world tries to go green, South Africa still invests in coal. Last Friday, President Jacob Zuma visited what is soon to become the fourth largest coal power-station in the world.
 
The welcome was warm. Gathered against the gates, hundreds of workers greeted South Africa's President Jacob Zuma as he made his way through the construction site.
 
In Lephalale, a wind-blown desert area 350 kilometers north of Johannesburg, the huge power station is being built. And on Friday, the South African president came to unveil the first unit which has been completed. In his speech, he reminded the crowd about the purpose of the gigantic project.
 
"These new power stations will provide the electricity capacity needed to grow the economy, attract investment, and create jobs," said Zuma.
 
The Medupi power station is part of a $41 billion project to build several power plants across the country. The project is run by Eskom, South Africa's electricity company.
 
Since construction started in 2005, 17,000 people worked daily on the Medupi site to build what is seen as part of the solution to South Africa's power woes.

Keeping up with demand
 
As its economy keeps growing fast, the country has been struggling to keep up as power demand outstripped supply. It came close to catastrophe in 2008 when a series of power shortages hit the country. According to some estimates, the demand in terms of power should double by 2030.
 
South Africa tackles the problem by using mainly coal to produce electricity. It has decades of coal reserves in the ground, according to Eskom chief executive Brian Dames.
 
"Coal is very important for us to use. It has been the basis in which South Africa has built the largest economy in this continent. And it will have to be a basis in which we will employ going forward. We have to find a way to do it in a cleaner manner and this construction behind us is the first step in that direction," said Dames.
 
The project has also been mired in controversy, precisely about its use of a fossil energy supply. In order to finance the new power stations, the government has planned to increase electricity prices by 25 percent each year, between 2010 and 2013.
 
The first unit of the Medupi power station tested by Jacob Zuma should provide power starting in late 2013. And the total completion of the power station is slated for 2017.

Affordability is key
 
Jan Schroeder, an independent power consultant, says the choice of coal is actually the only option the government has, right now, to provide affordable electricity, at least until some transition to renewable energies is undertaken.
 
"They need to provide affordable power. So people say, 'Give us renewable energy, and give it to us cheaply.' The truth is, there is a period that you have to go through. At the moment, renewable energy is still very expensive. It could be three to four times the price of coal energy," said Schroeder.
 
South Africa is still the 14th largest emitter of greenhouse gases, but it has engaged to reduce them. The government plans to increase the proportion of renewable energy in its energy mix from zero to nine percent, and the coal share would decrease from 85 percent to 65 percent.

You May Like

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid