Unless South Africa aggressively invests in renewable energy and relaxes air quality standards, Eskom’s models show it might need to implement stage 15 load-shedding.
This was the warning from Eskom CEO André de Ruyter, who spoke at the Africa Renewables Investment Summit in Cape Town, News24 reported.
“Stage 15 load shedding. I don’t want to know what that looks like,” De Ruyter said, adding that it would cost 100,000 jobs.
De Ruyter explained that Eskom’s existing coal power stations do not meet minimum emissions standards, leaving the power utility with a choice:
Either spend roughly R300 billion to retrofit them with equipment to clean their emissions, or decommission them.
This projected cost is too great for Eskom to take on, and even if it could, it would lead to increased electricity tariff hikes.
Eskom has already applied for a 32% price increase this year.
With retrofitting off the table, Eskom would have to shut down 16GW of capacity immediately and 30GW by 2025.
Each stage of load-shedding represents roughly a gigawatt (GW) of power that must be shed.
The Eskom System Operator’s load-shedding schedules currently go up to stage 8.
Eskom’s installed generating capacity is around 44GW, of which 38GW is coal.
It would therefore need to shut down 42% of its coal power stations immediately, and 79% by 2025.
Earlier this year, the North Gauteng High Court ruled against the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment and the National Air Quality Officer over the air quality in Gauteng and Mpumalanga.
It gave government 12 months to address the matter with revised air quality rules and penalties for non-compliance.
Environmental minister Barbara Creecy has applied for leave to appeal the ruling.