The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) has issued a stark warning, highlighting the potential repercussions of Eskom’s efforts to postpone the decommissioning of coal-fired power plants, citing the possibility of over 90, 000 premature deaths.
According to CREA’s analysis, the continued operation of these coal plants contributes to the release of greenhouse gases and the formation of hazardous air pollutants, posing a severe threat to public health and exacerbating the challenges associated with climate change.
Under South Africa’s current Integrated Resource Plan, initiated in 2019, the scheduled retirement of 11.3 gigawatts of coal power across seven plants by 2030 aims to address the detrimental impacts of coal-fired energy production.
However, the failure to implement stringent air pollution emissions controls on these plants has intensified the risks associated with prolonged operation.
Lauri Myllyvirta, the lead analyst at CREA, emphasised the urgent need for Eskom to prioritise the maintenance and refurbishment of its power plants, citing the detrimental effects of the company’s inadequate upkeep, which has contributed to frequent power outages and load-shedding incidents.
Myllyvirta stated, “Eskom’s failure to properly maintain these plants has not only resulted in frequent load-shedding incidents but also poses a significant threat to public health. Our recommendation is to adhere to the scheduled closure of the identified plants and allocate the saved resources to revitalise the remaining facilities. By implementing robust pollution control devices, a substantial reduction in air pollution can be achieved.”