Grootvlei Power Station

From Global Energy Monitor

Grootvlei power station is a 1,190-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in Mpumalanga, South Africa.

The plant's six units were planned for retirement by 2020.[1] However, Eskom subsequently changed the closure date to 2030,[2] and then 2025.[3]


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

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Background on Plant

The Grootvlei Power Station is a coal-fired station owned by the South African publicly-owned electricity utility Eskom, located at Balfour, Mpumalanga. The power station consists of six units of approximately 200 MW each. The first unit was commissioned in 1969, and the last in 1977. Three of Grootvlei's units were mothballed in 1989 and the rest in 1990. Eskom recommissioned three units in each of 2008 and 2009.[4] Unit 5 was re-optimised to full capacity and reclassified from 160 MW to 190 MW in April 2013.[5]

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 are old and unneeded, given the country's plans for new power capacity by independent power producers (IPPs).[6] In May 2020, it was reported that Eskom had changed its planning on closing the Grootvlei plant as well as its Camden and Hendrina plants. These plants, which were scheduled to close between 2020 and 2026, would now stay open until 2030.[2]

In 2017, two older coal-fired units from Eskom's Grootvlei Power Station, one older unit from Eskom's Hendrina Power Station, and two older units from Eskom's Komati Power Station were placed into cold reserve because their running costs were higher than other units. A government spokesman said that the old stations were expected to remain uneconomical to run, even if refurbished, compared to renewable energy IPP power options and the company's newer stations at Medupi and Kusile.[7]

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

Just Energy Transition plans

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.[9]

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.”[9][10]

As of August 2021, a repowering and repurposing project similar to developments at the Komati Power Station was planned at the Grootvlei plant, now scheduled for closure by 2025.[3][11]

Plant Details

  • Sponsor: Eskom
  • Parent company: Eskom
  • Location: Grootvlei, Gert Sibande District, Mpumalanga, South Africa
  • Coordinates: -26.7684944, 28.4977584 (exact)
  • Status: Operating
  • Gross capacity: 1,190 MW (Units 1-4, unit 6: 200 MW; unit 5: 190 MW)
  • Type: Subcritical
  • In service: commissioned 1969-1977, recommissioned 2008-2009
  • Planned retirement: 2025
  • Coal type:
  • Coal source:
  • Source of financing:

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