South Korea’s State-owned power utility Kepco will either cancel its investment in coal-driven South African independent power producer Thabametsi, or transition the project to gas.
A statement issued on Friday by Seoul-based nongovernmental organisation Solutions for Our Climate said Kepco announced on Thursday night it would no longer invest in overseas coal projects, a move which would also impact the Sual 2 venture in the Philippines.
The move comes 10 days after Kepco approved the acquisition of a stake in the controversial Vung Ang 2 coal power project in Vietnam.
Friday’s Solutions for Our Climate statement said Kepco chief executive officer Kim Jong-gap stated in an annual governmental audit hearing by the Korean national assembly that the utitlity planned to cancel or convert to liquefied natural gas, two remaining overseas coal power projects in its pipeline, namely Sual 2 and the 630 MW Thabametsi plant.
Environmentalists in South Africa have been working for several years to discourage the development of new coal-fired power stations, which they say would have a high pollution impact, be economically costly and raise greenhouse gas emissions.
Africa’s mos industrialised economy already derives the bulk of its electricity from coal, via state-owned utility Eskom.
In a victory for the environmental groups, a landmark decision by South Africa’s Water Tribunal in August confirmed that water licensing authorities must consider the impacts of climate change when deciding whether or not to grant water use licences to coal-fired power stations.
Coal-fired electricity however remains solidly in South Africa’s energy mix, with the government last month publishing a gazette paving the way for the procurement from independent power producers of 6 800 MW of solar and wind energy, 3 000 MW of gas generation, 513 MW of storage and 1 500 MW of coal generated power.