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'No risk of power outages' as Eskom can appeal emission extension refusals

There is no need tor fear that power outages are imminent, according to the departments of public enterprises and forestry, fisheries and the environment, as Eskom has been given time to appeal decisions about compliance with emissions at power stations. File image
There is no need tor fear that power outages are imminent, according to the departments of public enterprises and forestry, fisheries and the environment, as Eskom has been given time to appeal decisions about compliance with emissions at power stations. File image
Image: 123RF/beercrafter

The departments of public enterprises and forestry, fisheries and the environment assured the public on Wednesday that there was no risk of imminent power outages.

On Tuesday, Eskom said the decision by the environment department in November, declining applications by Eskom to postpone compliance with emission standards at five of its power stations, would have a significant impact on the utility’s ability to provide electricity.

Eskom said the refusal meant that, if implemented, the decision will result in the immediate shutting down of 16,000MW of coal-fired capacity.

“This would have a significant negative impact on the economy and employment … and delay the country’s plans for an energy transition to a cleaner energy supply.”

However, on Wednesday, the two departments said the appeal administrator in the environment department has granted Eskom approval to file an appeal, which has been done. 

“Members of the public and stakeholders are requested not to panic, as there is no imminent power outages,” the two departments said.

In terms of the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, Eskom coal and liquid fuel-fired power stations must meet minimum emission standards (MES) regulations published in the Act.

The regulations provide time frames for compliance with power plant emission limits.

Eskom is struggling to comply with some of the proposed limits and, during 2019 and last year, the utility submitted applications for postponement, suspension and alternative limits on emission standards for  16 power stations.

The applications contained detailed reasons, including that  full compliance would cost more than R300bn and will not add any additional capacity to the national grid.

The environment department responded to Eskom’s applications on November 4.

The department approved Eskom’s postponement applications for seven power stations and granted partial postponement requests for four stations.

However, the department declined Eskom’s postponement requests at Matla, Duvha, Matimba, Medupi and Lethabo. 

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