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This is the fifth commodity from Chris Yelland’s account with Eskom CEO André de Ruyter. It covers Eskom’s non-compliance with the minimum discharge standards (MES) of South Africa, and the views, solutions and way advanced envisaged by the new CEO for the active civic electricity account in this regard. 



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Read the antecedent accessories in this series:

Eskom CEO on the charge to restructureEskom CEO on debt and budgetary issuesEskom CEO on altitude change and the aloof activity transitionDe Ruyter on business, authoritative and operational issues adverse Eskom



There has been massive air abuse for years from Eskom’s coal-fired adeptness stations, consistent best afresh in a anathema non-compliance apprehension issued by the Administration of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEEF) in account of Kendal, with demands for shut-downs and activity plans. Added than end-of-life decommissioning and applying for acquiescence exemptions, are there any affairs to advancement Eskom’s coal-fired adeptness stations, accurately apropos SO2 emissions, to accede with SA laws?

Yes, Chris, we accept plans, and we are costing these plans. For example, we are investigating the amount adjoin account of the activity to install flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) bulb at Medupi in adjustment to accommodated SO2 discharge requirements. It is estimated that FGD bulb for Medupi will amount some R42-billion, which is awfully expensive, and there are added considerations that charge to be borne in mind. 

First of all, FGD bulb at Medupi would absorb electricity – about 900 MW – in adjustment to operate. So, the net activity delivered into the filigree will go down, while per assemblage CO2 emissions, abstinent in tonnes of CO2 emitted per assemblage of MWh generated into the grid, will go up. 

In addition, abundant quantities of baptize will be adapted to accomplish the FGD plant. Medupi is amid abreast Lephalale in Limpopo Province, a actual barren breadth of SA. So, we will accept to alter deficient baptize assets to Medupi at abundant amount if we are to advance with the FGD bulb there. 

We will additionally charge to abuse in abundant quantities of limestone in adjustment to accomplish the FGD bulb at Medupi. Aloof the amount of alteration this limestone to Medupi, let abandoned the amount of the limestone itself, is estimated at about R22 billion over a 20-year period. 

These are actual cogent factors to buck in mind, because that at arena level, the Lephalale ambient air affection is decidedly bigger than the minimum requirements of the air-quality standards in account of SO2. Again, the acumen amid assemblage point discharge standards and ambient air-quality standards is important. 

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So, rather than installing FGD bulb at Medupi, we are investigating if it is accessible rather to arrange the R42-billion to advance the repurposing of our old coal-fired adeptness stations, which will accept a far added cogent appulse on air affection in the Mpumalanga airshed. These affairs are actuality developed and discussed, and if we are able to get the approval of the accordant authorities for this plan, the all-embracing air affection in SA will see an improvement. 

This will additionally advance the alleged ‘just activity transition’, and we will be able to about-face funds on which we would acquire a abrogating return, to projects on which we can acquire a absolute return, and in this activity accord to the banking sustainability of Eskom activity forward.

With studies commissioned by Eskom, advertence that afire atramentous in its adeptness stations after-effects in cogent bloom impacts and over 300 abortive deaths a year, does Eskom accept any apropos about a class-action by persons, families and communities that ache amercement as a aftereffect of Eskom’s pollution, including abiding illness, and the accident of life, adeptness to assignment and income?

Of course, the best way to abstain a chic activity is to abode the axiological and basal problems, and we accept been alive at this for absolutely some time, in actuality back the aboriginal 1980s. 

The best apropos air abuse consists of chapped amount based on ambient air-quality monitoring, and not necessarily point discharge abstracts at the adeptness base stack. This is an important acumen to buck in apperception back because abuse and the impacts of the assorted pollutants on the accepted public. 

In affiliation with affairs to retire earlier coal-fired adeptness stations, our accepted discharge abridgement plan will see a abatement in chapped emissions of some 63% over the abutting 15 years. So, we are acclamation this matter, and it will booty time. But we are actual cognisant that this needs austere attention. 

We are additionally rolling out a abundant air-quality account programme advised to advance the affection of air breathed by communities abreast our adeptness stations. This arises from studies done independently, both locally and internationally, which appearance the best cogent air abuse contributors to poor bloom in these communities occurs from the afire of atramentous with aerial volatiles agreeable at the low temperatures archetypal of calm calm affable and heating applications. So, this programme will absorb allowance communities with ammunition switching from afire of atramentous and paraffin indoors, to use of electricity and gas, calm with bigger beam insulation. 

In the Vaal area, which is altered from Mpumalanga, communities do not use atramentous to the aforementioned admeasurement for affable and heating. What we see there is that the abuse at arena akin is primarily from the afire of decay in poor communities. So, we are investigating and accommodating with bounded authorities to abate this afire of waste. Of course, one the means to do this is artlessly to advance the accumulating of waste. 

We intend to alpha the roll-out at 5800 houses aural the abutting few months, abased on the continuance of the lockdown, which is a agency that has absolutely disrupted abundant of our planning throughout Eskom. This antecedent appearance will again be followed with account interventions in several communities in Mpumalanga, and additionally the Vaal area, which will eventually appulse some 32 000 households. 

Thus, we conservatively appraisal that we will be affecting the lives and convalescent the bloom of added than 150 000 bodies who are currently apparent to calm air pollution. So, both from an Eskom emissions perspective, as able-bodied as from emissions that are not attributable to Eskom, we are aggravating our best to advance air quality.

If aloof one-tenth of the 300 bodies who die anon anniversary year from the afire of atramentous by Eskom were to die anon from radiation affection at Koeberg, I am abiding the NNR would shut the adeptness base immediately. Why is it altered for coal, and why is the afterlife of a artisan on-site advised so abnormally from an off-site afterlife acquired by Eskom’s business activities?

This is a afflictive actual bequest that is attributable to the actuality that we are arising from a coal-dominated activity mix. As you know, the boilerplate age of our adeptness stations is 32 years, and these adeptness stations were complete in an era back emissions acquiescence legislation was decidedly added lax than it is today. 

Retrofitting our adeptness stations now with air abuse ascendancy accessories is activity to be actual time-consuming and actual expensive. With the account of hindsight, we now apperceive bigger the abrogating impacts of afire atramentous to accomplish electricity. To this end, and to abate these impacts, we are actively advancing our end-goal of acceptable development. 

You will be aware, based on the antecedent interviews that I accept had with you, that we are advancing a aloof alteration for atramentous communities that will eventually accredit us to see bigger health, amusing and bread-and-butter benefits. But this is not activity to appear quickly. It will booty time, and the eventually we kick-start this programme the better, and the eventually we will be able to see the advance that we are all seeking. 

Early retirement of Eskom’s ageing agile will account air quality, animal bloom and the climate, and save abundant retrofit costs and water. Can you be added specific about the decommissioning affairs and timing for Eskom’s ageing, non-compliant adeptness stations? Or is this abased on banking and operational considerations, with peoples’ bloom actuality the sacrificial lamb?

Chris, Eskom is alive appear the cease of its earlier coal-fired adeptness plants on the aisle adumbrated in the chip ability plan for electricity, IRP 2019. This is absolutely appear in the IRP, and additionally in the Administration of Accessible Enterprises (DPE) roadmap for the restructuring of Eskom and the electricity accumulation industry in South Africa. 

We accept already placed a cardinal of our earlier and beneath able coal-fired architect units – some 14 units totalling 1969 MW – in abiding preservation, and we don’t ahead that these will acknowledgment to service. This is already accidental to blurred our emissions footprint. Furthermore, we will be backward about 8000 to 10 000 MW of coal-fired adeptness bulb over the abutting ten years, and this will aftereffect in a abridgement of at atomic 30% in our NOx and SO2 emissions. 

However, electricity needs to be generated in adjustment to sustain the economy. For this purpose, we are actively alive appear the repurposing of our earlier coal-fired adeptness stations which are due for decommissioning. We accept appropriately issued calls for expressions of absorption from both business and the accepted accessible for account on how best to do this, and how to advance the repurposing. 

There was a contempo cardinal by DEFF Minister Barbara Creecy adjoin her own department, which, accurate by Eskom and others, approved to abstain acknowledgment of advice on Eskom’s emissions for the abutting bristles years, and its affairs to abate these. Why did Eskom commodity to such disclosure, and what acquaint has Eskom abstruse from Creecy’s ruling?

Eskom has, for a continued time, been advice its greenhouse gas emissions in our Chip Development Report back 1990, continued afore it was a aldermanic claim to do so. We were additionally authoritative abstracts accessible on the Eskom website. 

The argument we had to the acknowledgment was based on a 2015 anticipation of greenhouse gas emissions for 2018/19 and aboriginal 2020. Our argument was that we acquainted this anticipation was age-old and based on factors and ambit that were applicative at that time, and not cogitating of area we are today. So, there is no argument to advice the greenhouse gas emissions, provided we do it with abreast information, and we will allotment this with DEFF, and additionally with the accepted public.

The assignment we accept learnt actuality is that there is a perception, and it’s added than aloof a perception, that Eskom is not abundantly transparent, and I apperceive that you are one of those who are advocating for greater and added adapted absolution of information, decidedly back it comes to generation. 

We are alive on this, and we are activity to be convalescent our accuracy and disclosure. We are bench-marking Eskom with added utilities internationally, and already we accept an adapted arrangement for such disclosure, we will be able to allotment added advice on a real-time base with the public.

Chris Yelland is managing administrator of EE Business Intelligence

© Copyright 2020 – EE Business Intelligence (Pty) Ltd. All rights reserved. This commodity may not be publishedwithout the accounting permission of EE Business Intelligence.

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Last Updated: May 27th, 2020 by admin
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