Coal-3 power station

From Global Energy Monitor
This article is part of the CoalSwarm coverage of South Africa
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Coal-3 power station was a proposed 1,500-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station in the Waterberg area of South Africa.

Plans may have been replaced with the proposed Musina-Makhado power station or another power station.


The map below shows the Waterberg region, the approximate location where the plant would have been built.

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In 2011, the South Africa Department of Energy (DOE) released an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for the 2010-2030 time period which laid out plans for a Coal-3 power station. In a 2013 update, it reduced the scale of the proposed plant to 1,000-1,500 MW.[1]

In August 2013, the South Africa Cabinet approved the building of a third coal-fired power station by Eskom, although no timeline, schedules, or costs were approved. Industry Minister Rob Davies said construction of the power station, dubbed Coal 3, was likely to start once Eskom’s two current coal-fired projects, the Medupi power station and Kusile Power Station, were completed. The coal plant would have been built in Waterberg using the coal in the region.[2]

Yale Environment 360 offered the following rationale for the power station: "Although the Waterberg is one of southern Africa’s largest known coal deposits, it has remained underexploited because its complex geology and lack of water and rail lines has made it less attractive to private investors than 'easier' coalfields farther south. The Coal 3 plant would change this by guaranteeing local markets for more Waterberg mines.... In addition, associated heavy-haul rail lines will allow access to lucrative export markets, not just for the Waterberg mines but for new mines in adjacent Botswana, too.... [S]upporters of South Africa’s ruling party hold coal rights in the region, and landlocked Botswana’s government has long sought a route to the sea for its abundant but almost completely unexploited coal resources."[3]

In February 2014, the South African minister of public enterprises reaffirmed the government's commitment to the plant, but said Eskom had done only "limited work" on Coal 3 because it lacked the funds.[4]

In March 2016, Eskom stated that it was considering building Coal 3 in the wake of power shortages in the country. Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown said it should be a public-private partnership.[5]

With no known developments on the project in over four years, it appears to be delayed indefinitely or replaced by the proposed Musina-Makhado power station or another power station.

Lack of Funder Interest

According to a March 2016 press report, the Coal-3 project was increasingly unlikely due to lack of investor interest. “If I had the money necessary to build Coal 3, and if I had the intention of building a large-scale coal power station, then I would build it myself and sell the electricity to Eskom as an independent power producer,” said energy analyst David Lipschitz. Nevertheless, Eskom continued to promote the project. Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown said that Eskom would seek collaboration from private sector investors for the project.[6]

Involvement by Gupta family

As part of an investigation by Parliament's public enterprises committee into issues of state capture at Eskom, former Eskom CEO Brian Dames reported that he had met with two members of the Gupta family at a meeting held at Sahara Computers, a Gupta-owned IT firm. At the meeting, the Guptas brought up the issue of coal contracts. As reported by Dames: "He said 'we've decided we can work with you'- I don't know who 'we' was‚" Dames said of the conversation. "There was a request for a coal contract for Lethabo which is very strange because Lethabo is a unique power station‚ it needed no additional coal. There was a request for another coal station after Medupi and Kusile- a Coal 3 thing and then there was the newspaper thing."[7][8]

Project Details

  • Sponsor: Eskom
  • Parent company:
  • Location: Waterberg coalfield, Limpopo Province, South Africa
  • Coordinates: -24.075, 28.141667 (approximate)
  • Status: Cancelled
  • Gross Capacity: 1,500 MW
  • Type:
  • Projected in service:
  • Coal Type: Bituminous
  • Coal Source: Waterberg, South Africa
  • Source of financing:

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