Out of step with Mantashe’s rhetoric, energy department cautiously prepares for end of coal


Minister Gwede Mantashe (Gallo Images / Business Day / Freddy Mavunda)

Working day / Freddy Mavunda

  • The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy said it will start preparing for the end of the use of coal for electricity in the country.
  • The department said in a presentation to a small group of businesses, governments and research representatives that it plans to set up a just energy transition unit to help achieve an outcome “that ensures justice. social “.
  • The presentation could mark a change from the rhetoric of Minister Gwede Mantashe who has repeatedly reiterated that the country should continue to exploit its coal resources and not be dictated by developed countries.

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy said it would start preparing for the end of the use of coal for electricity in the country, but warned that a withdrawal of the dirtiest fossil fuels must consider the impact on the economy and the people who depend on it. this to earn a living.

In a presentation to a small group of business, government and research representatives on November 15, the department said it plans to set up a just energy transition unit to help achieve a result “that ensures social justice, “according to a copy of it seen. by Bloomberg. While the ministry declined to immediately comment on the presentation, four people with knowledge of it confirmed its veracity.

The presentation could mark a change from the rhetoric of Gwede Mantashe, South Africa’s Energy Minister, who has repeatedly reiterated that the country should continue to exploit its coal resources and not be dictated by countries developed which urge it to reduce emissions linked to global warming. Mantashe’s comments contradict those of Environment Minister Barbara Creecy and President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The presentation also comes after it was announced this month during the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow that the US, UK, Germany, France and the EU had offered. to South Africa $ 8.5 billion in concessional loans and subsidies to switch from coal. South Africa depends on fuel for around 80% of its electricity and is the 12th largest source of greenhouse gases in the world.

“Stranded assets”

“The global phase-out of coal has started and will occur on a different scale and pace,” the department said in the presentation. “The transition will be disruptive – it needs to be carefully managed and coordinated.”

The department acknowledged that financial institutions have become reluctant to fund coal projects and recognized “the real possibility of stranded fossil fuel assets and ghost towns.”

He spoke of the need to protect energy security and to include measures such as training so as not to exacerbate poverty and unemployment in areas dependent on coal.

Nonetheless, the department said the country’s current energy policy, which includes 1,500 megawatts of new coal production capacity, should be implemented.

He also suggested that the viability of upgrading coal-fired power plants operated by the state-owned Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. with nuclear reactors is evaluated. Eskom proposed to use the site of the power plants to generate electricity from gas or renewable sources such as solar power.


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