West News Wire: According to the World Bank, South Africa, one of the top emitters of greenhouse gases, has received $497 million in finance to decommission one of its biggest coal-fired power facilities and convert it to renewable energy.

The recently shut down Komati power station, which is located 170 kilometers (105 miles) northeast of Johannesburg, will be repurposed using solar and wind energy, supplemented by batteries for storage, according to a statement released by the bank late on Thursday.

The project intends to reduce carbon emissions and foster economic growth in the region, which for more than 60 years has been home to one of Africa’s largest coal plants.

According to World Bank Group President David Malpass, shutting down the Komati plant this week is a positive first step toward low-carbon growth.

South Africa secured $8.5bn in loans and grants at the UN climate talks last year from a group of rich nations to finance its switch to greener energy.

But it remains heavily dependent on coal, which generates 80 percent of its electricity. The power sector accounts for 41 percent of national CO2 emissions.

Africa’s most industrialised economy has been suffering sweeping power outages caused by failures at state-owned energy firm Eskom’s ageing and poorly maintained infrastructure.

Workers laid off by the plant’s closure will be supported through a transition plan, while a portion of the financing will be spent on creating economic opportunities within local communities.

The funding comprises a $439.5m World Bank loan, a $47.5m concessional loan from the Canadian Clean Energy and Forests Climate Facility and a $10m grant from the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), an initiative to help low and middle-income countries.

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Earlier this week the World Bank said South Africa would require at least $500bn to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

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