|"After years of delays, the first unit of a new coal plant|
north of Johannesburg is churning out electricity,
though it won’t reach full power until 2019,
seven years later than planned." (Credit: IW)
by Benson Agoha | Energy
One of the major problems facing African countries is shortage of energy. And power in so short a supply, the continent is massively under-invested.
But on Sunday, September 30, 2015, South Africa moved to solve their energy problem, finally inaugurating the first unit of a new coal-fired power plant.
South Africa president Jacob Zuma appropriately hailed the new launch as "a step away from the country’s energy woes."
The plant, located in Johannesburg can produce 4,800 megawatts of electricity by 2019 when full capacity will have been attained.
The effect of this is expected to be felt immediately and idle South African can kick-start their economic revolution by setting up small scale businesses than depend on electricity.
The Eskom power plant, generates more than 95% of South Africa’s electricity. In 2013, a gas-fired powered plant was commissioned. A new coal-burning plant has not come online since 1996.
The new plant’s first unit began operating in March and its 749 megawatts of electricity should help ease the stress on the country’s troubled electrical grid.
Another coal-fired plant is under construction in Kusile, east of Johannesburg. It’s expected to pump out a flow of electricity similar to Medupi, but that project has also been hampered by major delays.
But with South Africa's energy plants receiving government attention, questions being asked is whether this will rub off on other African nations as well.
So far, no promises are being made - not even for South Africa, where load shedding remain in place.
And as energy specialist Chris Yelland told AFP: “It’s too premature to say that it’s the end of load shedding with this inauguration,” adding ”On Monday, a unit of the Koeberg power plant will be shut down for maintenance for three months.”
But what mattered, at least for now is the progress being made and as President Zuma said at the inauguration: “Today we open an important and exciting chapter in our country’s energy history,” adding “Shortage of energy is a serious impediment to economic growth.”
Let's hope that it will rub off well on other African nations, especially Nigeria, where billionaire industrialist Tony Elumelu is pulling his business partners together for investment in the energy sector.