Arnot power station

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Arnot power station is an operating power station of at least 2352-megawatts (MW) in Rietkuil, Nkangala, Mpumalanga, South Africa.

Location

Table 1: Project-level location details

Plant name Location Coordinates (WGS 84)
Arnot power station Rietkuil, Nkangala, Mpumalanga, South Africa -25.943807, 29.79204 (exact)

The map below shows the exact location of the power station.

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Unit-level coordinates (WGS 84):

  • Unit 1, Unit 2, Unit 3, Unit 4, Unit 5, Unit 6: -25.943807, 29.79204

Project Details

Table 2: Unit-level details

Unit name Status Fuel(s) Capacity (MW) Technology Start year Retired year
Unit 1 operating coal - bituminous 370 subcritical 1972 2026 (planned)
Unit 2 operating coal - bituminous 390 subcritical 1971 2026 (planned)
Unit 3 operating coal - bituminous 396 subcritical 1971 2026 (planned)
Unit 4 operating coal - bituminous 396 subcritical 1973 2027 (planned)
Unit 5 operating coal - bituminous 400 subcritical 1974 2029 (planned)
Unit 6 operating coal - bituminous 400 subcritical 1975 2029 (planned)

Table 3: Unit-level ownership and operator details

Unit name Owner
Unit 1 Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd (Eskom) [100.0%]
Unit 2 Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd (Eskom) [100.0%]
Unit 3 Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd (Eskom) [100.0%]
Unit 4 Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd (Eskom) [100.0%]
Unit 5 Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd (Eskom) [100.0%]
Unit 6 Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd (Eskom) [100.0%]

Background

The Arnot Power Station is a coal-fired station owned by the South African publicly-owned electricity utility Eskom, located at Middelburg, Mpumalanga. Construction of Arnot started in 1968, and was commissioned from 1971 to 1975.[1]

Three of its units were put into reserve storage (mothballed) in 1992 due to the surplus generating capacity Eskom had at the time. The units were recommissioned in January 1997, November 1997 and December 1998 respectively.[2]

The power station comprised six units of 350 MW each. In 2008, Eskom said it planned to commission 60 MW upgrades in 2008, a further 60 MW in 2009 and a further 30 MW in 2010.[3]

In 2015, Eskom gave the unit ratings as follows: 1 x 370 MW; 1 x 390 MW; 2 x 396 MW; 2 x 400 MW for a total of 2,352 MW installed capacity and 2,232 MW nominal capacity.[4]

In April 2016, the Eskom Board said it approved the commencement of a pre-feasibility study for renewal options for four of its oldest power stations - Komati, Camden, Hendrina, and Arnot. The pre-feasibility study would take 18 months to complete, and would include looking at options such as plant life extension.[5]

According to South Africa's 2019 Integrated Resource Plan, the plant's 50-year Life Decommissioning was projected for 2021-2029.[6] In April 2020, Eskom also listed the planned retirement dates for the plant's six units between 2021 and 2029.[7]

In August 2021, Eskom announced it entered into an agreement with Arnot OpCo (Pty) Ltd for the supply of coal. Arnot OpCo will supply the full coal requirement for the life of Arnot Power Station. The contract has an exit clause after Year 6 that may allow both parties to cancel the contract.[2]

In October 2021, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment granted Eskom with positive environmental compliance postponement decisions for Arnot as it was scheduled to shut down.[8]

Proposed delay in retirement

In April 2023, it was reported that the Minister of Electricity had proposed to delay the retirement of some of Eskom's older coal-fired plants to help alleviate the country's energy crisis. Arnot power station and Hendrina power station were allegedly of "immediate focus."[9] Energy analysts have reportedly warned that extending the life of aging coal plants in South Africa was likely to jeopardize access to the US$8.5 billion Just Energy Transition funding aimed at accelerating renewable energy projects in the country.[10]

According to reports from May 2023, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed that planned retirements of coal plants would slow down. He reportedly stated that the government could not "run away" from decommissioning aging power plants, but that "the timetable and scheduling of decommissioning must be relooked at."[11] Standard Chartered, one of the largest lenders in Africa, reportedly warned that government plans to extend the life of Eskom's coal plants would make attracting investment to South Africa harder, as investors would be wary of being trapped in stranded fossil fuel assets.[12]

As of October 2023, the South African government was reviewing their 2019 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and expecting to release an updated IRP before the end of the year. During the review, it was reportedly proposed that coal plant decommissioning dates scheduled for before 2030 be pushed back until 2030 and later.[13] A study by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) published in October 2023 estimated that postponing the decommissioning until after 2030 would cause 15,300 excess air pollution-related deaths.[13]

Disruptions & Load Shedding

The Arnot Power Station is one of several plants in South Africa facing recurring disruptions.[14] Eskom frequently implements load shedding due to breakdowns at the power station, such as in September 2020[15], June 2021[16], November 2021[17], and October 2022.[18] In addition, in 2018, union sources claimed that five of the units were down because of low coal supplies and wage protests.[19]

In February 2023, South Africa's grid was faced with Stage 6 load shedding, massively restricting power supplies "until further notice". Breakdowns occurred at five coal-fired power stations: Arnot power station, Camden power station, Hendrina power station, Lethabo power station and Majuba power station. The breakdowns meant Eskom had 21,243 MW of unplanned outages at its plants, with a further 3,566 MW unavailable due to scheduled maintenance. Conditions were expected to worsen through the end of the month.[20]

An article from May 22, 2023, reported that Eskom would increase load shedding due to a breakdown of generation units at Arnot, Majuba, and Medupi power stations.[21]

In November 2023, two units at Arnot power station were taken offline for repairs.[22]

Accidents and Incidents

In February 2022, soon before Arnot OpCo was expected to make its first delivery of coal to the plant, an investigation began regarding alleged mismanagement of the Arnot OpCo operation.[23] Wescoal, which holds 50% interest in Arnot OpCo, said that they remain committed to supplying coal to the Arnot Power Station amid the investigation.[24] In October 2022, Arnot OpCo was placed under "supervision and business rescue proceedings". The mine was to continue supplying the power station.[25]

In March 2023, a former Senior Buyer at Arnot power station was arrested over a 2014 pre-paid contract for undelivered bowl pumps.[26]

Articles and Resources

References

  1. "Heritage - Arnot Power Station". Eskom. Retrieved January 6, 2016.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Eskom signs coal supply agreement with employee-owned Arnot mine," ESI Africa, August 13, 2021
  3. South African government, "National Response to South Africa's Electricity Shortage", January 2008
  4. "Fact sheet with additional information" (PDF). 2015. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
  5. "Eskom Board approves Fleet Renewal Strategy based on economic viability," Eskom, April 24, 2016
  6. "Integrated Resource Plan (IRP2019)," South Africa, October 2019 (figure 26)
  7. "Response of Eskom to CER, Reference number: PAIA 0087 MAN," CER website, April 28, 2020
  8. “Eskom to engage on way forward after being denied permission to delay air-quality compliance,” Engineering News, December 14, 2021
  9. "Ramaphosa calls urgent Cabinet meeting to discuss new plan for old coal power stations," News24, April 19, 2023
  10. "Eskom chair Mpho Makwana says SA needs to decarbonise fast," News24, April 21, 2023
  11. "Ramaphosa confirms SA will slow down its decommissioning of coal-fired power plants," IOL, May 11, 2023
  12. "Standard Chartered Warns on Extending Use of Coal Plants in South Africa, Business Day Says," Bloomberg, May 14, 2023
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Health impacts of delaying coal power plant decommissioning in South Africa," Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, October 24, 2023
  14. "Load shedding to get worse, expect stage 5," City Press, June 6, 2021
  15. "Load shedding to continue until 22:00 as plant breakdowns increase," fin 24, September 1, 2020
  16. "Load shedding can’t be our new norm especially during unforgiving winter months," IOL News, June 4, 2021
  17. "Eskom on implementation of loadshedding at short notice," South African Government, November 2, 2021
  18. "Stage 3 load shedding until further notice as Eskom loses more units," BusinessTech, October 20, 2022
  19. "Disruptions hit Arnot power station in South Africa amid protests," Reuters, July 31, 2018
  20. "Eskom implements Stage 6 load shedding with the possibility of higher stages increase," IOL, February 19, 2023
  21. "Eskom Latest: Power Cuts Ramped Up; Netcare Fuel Costs Surge," Bloomberg, May 22, 2023
  22. "Load shedding reduced to Stage 1 until Saturday afternoon," Eyewitness News, November 4, 2023
  23. "Wescoal confirms investigation at Arnot Opco is under way," Mining Weekly, February 15, 2022
  24. "Response to Sunday World article dated 13 February 2022," Wescoal Holdings Limited, February 14, 2022
  25. "Eskom coal supply mine Arnot OpCo placed under business rescue," News24, October 11, 2022
  26. "Eskom contractor employee arrested for fraud and corruption involving a bogus supplier," Eskom, March 17, 2023

Additional data

To access additional data, including an interactive map of coal-fired power stations, a downloadable dataset, and summary data, please visit the Global Coal Plant Tracker on the Global Energy Monitor website.