Africa’s Biggest Power Utility Risks Having Some Of Its Plants Shut Down Due To Emission Violations

By  |  September 5, 2019

South Africa’s embattled power utility Eskom could have some of its power plants shut down in the event it fails to reduce its emission levels, Jan Oberholzer, Eskom’s CEO has warned.

Suppose these plants are closed, a tenth of the company’s production capacity would be cut according to Jan Oberholzer.

The debt-ridden state-run power firm supplies 90 percent of the nation’s power and heavily relies on coal. It is reported that the utility uses over 90 million tons of coal per annum.

Eskom’s heavy reliance on coal has taken a substantial toll on human health with the utility’s coal-fired power stations killing more than 2,200 South Africans every year.

A report by US coal plant expert Dr. Ranajit Sahu indicated that nearly all Eskom power plants persistently exceed air pollution limits stipulated in their licenses.

Eskom’s power plants are the reason why the Southern African country has severally been said to host one of the world’s most polluted hotspots.

Greenpeace earlier released a survey naming South Africa as home to world’s second-largest hotspot of Sulphur dioxide emissions.

Thousands of deaths and tens of thousands of chronic illnesses have been linked to the ailing utility’s pollution levels. The most affected people are those living near Eskom’s coal power plants.

The World Health Organisation said 20 000 South Africans die each year because of air pollution.

Despite continuously endangering the health and violating the human rights of millions of people affected by its pollution, Eskom continues to operate.

Eskom has also filed for permission to delay complying with emission limits at some of its plants.

“If we were to press a button today and solve all theses (emissions) troubles, it would cost us ZAR 300 Bn. But as you know we do not have money,” Eskom’s acting Chief Executive and chairman Jabu Mabuza told reporters.

Featured Image Courtesy: Centre Of Human Rights

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