The Life After Coal Campaign, alongside numerous other experts and community representatives, is set to present its objections to the Thabametsi and Khanyisa’s  coal power stations, to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) next Tuesday 27 March.

NERSA will hold public hearings for the generation licence applications by the two preferred bidders under the first bid window of the Coal Baseload Independent Power Producer (IPP) Procurement Programme – Thabametsi, based in Limpopo, and Khanyisa, based in Mpumalanga.

The Life After Coal campaign is challenging these new coal plants on the grounds that they would be harmful to the environment and human health, and are risky projects that would produce expensive electricity that South Africa does not need.

Legal troubles

According to the organisation both proposed coal-fired power station projects are embroiled in legal challenges from civil society organisations because of their shocking climate impacts and the failure to adequately assess these impacts.

“Although Thabametsi and Khanyisa were announced as the preferred bidders under the Coal Baseload IPP Programme in October 2016, they still require various authorisations, and all pending litigation against them needs to be resolved before they would be in a position to reach commercial and financial close. The commercial and financial close deadline has already had to be extended on numerous occasions.

“There is no guarantee that these projects will get all the authorisations they need in order to go ahead,” the organisation explains.

In addition to the licences required from NERSA, Thabametsi still requires a water use licence and an air emission licence. Khanyisa’s provisional air emission licence is subject to an appeal, and its water use licence will be challenged by groundWork.

Ongoing fight

“Committing Eskom to buy expensive and dirty power from these new coal plants is reckless and risky, and will lock South Africa into decades of costly pollution, high water use, and climate change, burdening consumers with expensive, unnecessary electricity, and exposing people and the environment to irreversible harm.

“The Life After Coal Campaign urges NERSA to refuse the applications and the Minister of Energy, Eskom and the financiers of this project to reconsider their support for these two projects. The Campaign will continue, through litigation and advocacy, to oppose all new coal-fired power stations, including the two preferred bidders,” the campaign concludes.