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COAL Where to for coal electricity in South Africa? In the medium term the trajectory for steam coal usage in South Africa is upward with the giant Medupi and Kusile power stations due to add 9.7 GW of capacity, but the longer term outlook for coal in this country is a diminishing one. S outh Africa, one of the world’s most coal dependent countries, has embarked on a gung-ho green energy path but planners have not ignored the realities of a resource it has in abundance. Coal 3, the current description of the next major coal fired power station after Kusile, has received cabinet approval. Initially the minister of public enterprises Malusi Gigaba and Eskom CEO Brian Dames suggested that Eskom will build this power station, but the country’s Department of Energy (DoE) subsequently said it has not yet been decided. The country’s existing integrated resource plan (IRP 2010) does provide for 6.25 GW of new coal capacity up until 2030. If the scale of this new power facility is to be similar to that of Medupi, it will fit into the current IRP without breaking its boundaries. Dave Collins, vice president of South Africa’s Fossil Fuel Foundation and principal consultant at MAC Consulting, says, “For a facility of such a scale with an expected life of 50 years Coal 3 would need some 16 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of coal, totalling 800 million tonnes over its lifetime. The most probable location is for it to be near its coal supply in the Waterberg.” However, with no clarity at the time of writing about when, Dave Collins, vice president of South where, how big and Africa’s Fossil Fuel Foundation and by whom Coal 3 will Principal Consultant at MAC Consulting. be undertaken, and speculation that the government announcement could have been made to placate and assure workers on the existing build programme that there is scope for further employment, certainty is a long way off. “At the same time, the IRP 2010 forecast that South Africa will require 454 Terawatt-hours (TWh) of energy in 2030, based South Africa’s Richards Bay coal export terminal. 16 ESI AFRICA ISSUE 4 2013