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By Wendell Roelf
CAPE TOWN Oct 10 South Africa has selected two
local consortia as the preferred bidders to develop the first
privately-built coal-fired plants in Africa's most
industrialised country, the energy minister said on Monday.
South Africa is in a race to boost electricity supply, and
avoid power cuts that have in the past hurt business and eroded
its appeal as an investment destination.
The Thabametsi and Khanyisa consortia will add more than 850
megawatts (MW) of coal-fired production to the national grid in
a country which has huge untapped coal resources.
The projects had the backing of foreign developers from
Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia and the South African banking sector.
South Africa, which generates about 42,000 MW of
electricity, is aiming to diversify its energy mix to include
gas, wind and solar power.
"Khanyisa (is) set to begin commercial operation in December
2020, followed closely by Thabametsi in March 2021," Tina
Joematt-Petterson told a media briefing in Cape Town.
"While South Africa's energy build plan still incorporates
the development of fossil fuel assets in the foreseeable future,
we are committed to transition to a low-carbon economy."
She said the second round of bids to develop coal power
plants was being reviewed to consider the inclusion of clean
coal technologies, as the world commits to reduce harmful
emissions driving climate change.
The government has previously said it is also seeking
alternatives in the gas, renewable and nuclear energy to help
stem electricity shortfalls.
Khanyisa, which will use discarded coal from dumps to fuel
its power plant in Mpumalanga, counts Saudi Arabia's ACWA Power,
General Electric and local investment firm Thebe
Investments, which as a 15 percent stake, as its backers.
The Thabametsi consortium, which will develop a new mine in
northern Limpopo province, is backed by Japan's Marubeni
Corporation, which holds a 24.5 pct stake, and Korea's
Kepco with a similar stake.
(Additional reporting by TJ Strydom in Johannesburg; Editing by