South African power utility Eskom is open to importing coal for plants it still plans to commission, a coal conference heard on Tuesday. Willem Theron, business development manager of Eskom’s southern Africa transmission group, said the state-run utility planned to install an additional 6 250 MW of coal-based power after the completion of two new coal plants, Medupi and Kusile. “It is assumed that some of this can be through imports,”
Theron told the conference in the Mozambique capital Maputo. Theron said one possibility for imports was Mozambique, where a coal boom has cooled but mines are still being developed, and neighbouring Botswana, which geologists say has huge untapped reserves. South Africa is a major coal producer itself, for both the export and domestic market. But plants are typically built close to a mine, so imports could make sense if Botswana’s coal industry is developed and a plant was erected near the border.
Eskom is battling to keep the lights on in Africa’s most advanced economy and frequently has to resort to implementing power cuts to prevent the grid from being overwhelmed.