Camden power station

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Camden power station is a 1,600-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in Mpumalanga, South Africa.


The map below shows the location of the plant, near Camden, Gert Sibande District, Mpumalanga.

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Background on Plant

Camden Power Station is a coal-fired station owned by the South African publicly-owned electricity utility Eskom. It has an installed capacity of 1,600 MW and comprises eight 200 MW units.[1]

It was commissioned in 1967-1969. Between 1990 and 2006 the station was mothballed, but Eskom decided to recommission the station, starting with unit 6 in July 2005 and completing with unit 1 in July 2008.[2]

In April 2020, Eskom closed the coal plant for up to three months due to the risk of collapse of the coal ash dam. Eskom stated that “the current dam has reached its maximum height and therefore it poses a safety risk to all personnel on site [and] neighbouring communities, and could also be a cause for environmental contravention.” The Camden plant is one that is likely to be closed as new units at Eskom's Medupi and Kusile plants are commissioned.[3] However, as noted below, Eskom's plans to close the Camden plant are currently uncertain.

In October 2021, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment granted Eskom with positive environmental compliance postponement decisions for Camden as it was scheduled to shut down.[4]

It appears that only a few of the plant's units were running at a time until a new ash dam is completed sometime in 2022.[5] Media statements from Eskom highlight the aging infrastructure at the plant. In December 2021, an internal fault of unit 8 caused a transformer explosion.[6] In May 2022, a unit was taken offline for repairs amid major loadshedding power outages of the South African grid.[7]

In mid-November 2022, an internal saboteur was arrested following a purposeful incident that caused at least one unit of the power station to trip. A plug was pulled, allowing oil to drain and damage a bearing. The incident followed a series of similar acts of sabotage at Eskom power stations, including two arrests over stolen coal just one week earlier.[8] In late-November 2022, another arrest was made over coal allegedly stolen by contracted truck drivers.[9] Additional reporting from October 2022 mentioned an act of sabotage taking all eight units offline.[10]

Tenders & applications

Power utility Eskom has been embroiled in tender irregularities.[11] For example, in August 2021, a court found that its award of a tender to Senta Square to perform control and instrumentation maintenance at the plant between 2019 and 2022 was unlawful.[12]

In October 2021, the National Treasury denied a May 2020 application by Eskom to appoint construction firm WBHO to finalise urgent work at Camden Power Station at a cost of R212 million – despite warnings from the power utility that it could cost as much as R1.2 billion to keep the lights on if the project did not proceed.[13]

Power distribution

In addition to feeding the South African grid, Camden, along with Arnot Power Station, also feeds the Mozal Aluminium smelter in Mozambique via 400kV transmission lines.[14] Mozal consumes around 950MW.[15]

In their 2021 Integrated Report, Eskom stated that rail haulage opportunities have been put on hold for the plant "due to uncertainty around the remaining life of Camden".[5]

Proposed renewal

In April 2016, the Eskom Board said it approved the commencement of a pre-feasibility study for renewal options for four of the 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.[16]

In March 2017, Eskom said that it would hold meetings with the government and labour to discuss its plans to decommission five power stations over the next five years: Komati Power Station, Hendrina Power Station, Kriel Power Station, Grootvlei Power Station, and Camden Power Station. Eskom said the stations were old and unneeded given the country's plans for new power capacity by independent power producers (IPPs).[17]

Eskom planned to close their operating units down between 2020 and 2026.[18] However, in April 2020, Eskom noted that it was considering delaying closure of the Camden power station and that investigations were underway: “Due to present capacity constraints and in order to allow opportunity for other stations to undertake maintenance it has been decided to continue with the operations of Grootvlei, Camden, Hendrina with station shut-down occurring by 2030."[19]

In November 2020, the World Bank Group invited expressions of interest from consultants to assess the implications of retiring the Camden, Hendrina, Grootvlei, and Komati coal plants. The consultant were to look at the technical, environmental, socioeconomic, and financial implications of decommissioning the plants to help inform the WBG’s future engagement with South Africa.[20]

Eskom was looking at options for repurposing the plants with the core aims of “reusing existing power transmission infrastructure, developing new generation capacity, providing ancillary services, and mitigating socioeconomic impact. In addition to conversion to gas or use of the site for renewable generation or battery storage, parts of the infrastructure can be used for ancillary services such as frequency and voltage control and inertia. It launched a request for information in May 2020 following an internal technical review.”[20]

Just Energy Transition (JET) plans

As of August 2021, a repowering and repurposing project similar to developments at the Komati Power Station was planned at the Camden plant, now scheduled for closure by 2025.[21][22]

Coal ash

Eskom reported that the first ash deposition was achieved at the Camden Power Station Ash Facility in October 2021. However, commercial, construction issues, including inclement weather, and Covid-19 constraints were still affecting execution.[23]

Plant Details

  • Sponsor: Eskom
  • Parent company: Eskom
  • Location: Camden, Gert Sibande District, Mpumalanga, South Africa
  • Coordinates: -26.6214772, 30.0900738 (exact)
  • Status: Operating (commissioned in 1967-1969, recommissioned in 2005-2008)
  • Planned retirement: 2025
  • Gross capacity: 1,600 MW (8 x 200 MW)
  • Type: Subcritical
  • Coal type:
  • Coal source:
  • Source of financing:

Articles and resources


  1. "National Response to South Africa's Electricity Shortage", South African government, January 2008
  2. "Camden Power Station, Mpumalanga Province, South Africa," Power, October 1, 2014
  3. "South Africa may forces Eskom to halt two units at 3.5 GW Kendal coal-fired plant," Enerdata, May 20, 2020
  4. “Eskom to engage on way forward after being denied permission to delay air-quality compliance,” Engineering News, December 14, 2021
  5. 5.0 5.1 "2021 Integrated Report," Eskom, October 2021
  6. “Eskom can confirm Camden Unit 8 transformer fire, no impact on supply anticipated,” Eskom, December 29, 2021
  7. “Due to some recovery in the generation capacity this afternoon, Stage 1 loadshedding will be implemented from 17:00 – 22:00 tonight,” Eskom, May 13, 2022
  8. “Internal saboteur arrested at Camden Power Station,” Eskom, November 16, 2022
  9. “Another coal truck driver was arrested at Camden Power Station for Tampering with Coal,” Youth Opportunities Hub, November 24, 2022
  10. “Suspected sabotage took down entire Eskom power station,” My Broadband, October 1, 2022
  11. "Fired Eskom boss exposed tender flaws," news24, May 31, 2021
  12. "Court says Eskom award of contract unlawful, but not set aside," Times Live, August 16, 2021
  13. "Treasury refused Eskom request for R212m contract that could have saved R1.2b," news24, October 4, 2021
  14. "Camden Power Station," Eskom, accessed January 6, 2010
  15. "SA energy crisis affects Mozambique aluminium export," Engineering News (Creamer Media), September 28, 2008
  16. "Eskom Board approves Fleet Renewal Strategy based on economic viability," Eskom, April 24, 2016
  17. "NUM goes to war over proposed Eskom power station closures," Mining Weekly, March 29, 2017
  18. "Eskom Considers Delaying Closure of Three Coal-Fired Plants," Bloomberg Green, May 14, 2020
  19. "Eskom response to PAIA 0087 MAN," April 28, 2020
  20. 20.0 20.1 “South Africa: Consultants sought for coal plant repurposing,” Africa Energy, November 25, 2020
  21. "South Africa's Eskom plans sharp reduction of coal-fired power by 2031," Reuters, August 17, 2021
  22. "Eskom to retire 8-12GW of coal-fired power generation by 2031," NS Energy, August 8, 2021
  23. "The state of South Africa's power stations - according to Eskom," Times Live, October 25, 2021

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