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Eskom review endangers biggest Africa renewable power plan

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Johannesburg - Eskom is questioning the role of renewable energy, jeopardising a programme touted as one of the most attractive for wind and solar power producers in the world.

Renewable power isn’t ideal, because it can’t be guaranteed when needed at the evening peak of 18:00, and the country would be better off relying on coal or nuclear, Eskom CEO Brian Molefe told the Sunday Times. The utility currently produces about 85% of South Africa’s power from coal and operates Africa’s only nuclear plant. While SA has approved plans to add as much as 9 600 megawatts of nuclear by 2030, the National Treasury says it will only consent to what is afforable.

South Africa’s renewable-energy procurement “has become a template not just for the developing world, but even countries in Europe,” Jason Harlan, CEO of Fieldstone Africa, a Johannesburg-based energy investment bank, said by phone. “There’s a definite chilling effect on long-term interest in South Africa” as a result of Eskom’s position, he said.

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