Exxaro has come under fire for its involvement with the proposed 1 200 MW power station in the Waterberg region of the Limpopo province, in conjunction with French IPP GDF Suez.

An online article published by eNCA says the project flies in the face of the “grave warnings” of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The article alludes that Exxaro and GDF Suez are collaborating to produce ‘dirty’ electricity for Eskom.

The Working Group III 5th Assessment Report, released from Berlin in Germany, confirms that burning fossil fuel is the major contributor of greenhouse gases, which have risen on average by 2.2% each year from 2000 to 2010.

Coal is not a cheap source of energy

“Coal is not a cheap source of energy if the external costs of the environmental and health impacts are not included in the price tag,” argues the article.

This will result in South Africa being “the largest contributor of greenhouse gases on the African continent, and the major cause of regional climate change in Southern Africa.”

Waterberg has solar capacity

The article reads: “The Waterberg region perhaps has some of the best solar capacity in the world for clean electricity generation, yet both the developed and developing world are partnering here to stubbornly stick to dangerous fossil-fuel addiction.”

Exxaro issued a statement in response to the article, explaining that it has a relationship with GDF Suez in terms of the coal supply to GDF Suez’s base-load IPP coal-fired power station of 1 200MW (circa 600MW for the first phase development).

Govt’s IRP, IPP programme

“The coal mine and IPP power station will be located in the Waterberg region in Limpopo. This IPP power station is being developed in consideration for the current and potentially future electricity shortages in South Africa in accordance with government’s IRP and coal-fired IPP procurement programme.”

The mining house comments further: “Exxaro is conscious of the negative impacts of fossil-fuel based electricity generation.” Actions in mitigation of this include partnering with Tata Power through a joint venture company to develop renewable energy opportunities.

R3bn for 229MW of wind projects in E Cape

“We will invest an initial combined R3 billion with Tata Power for the development of 229MW of wind energy projects in the Eastern Cape. These projects will start delivering electricity from late 2016, barring any unforeseen project development and regulatory issues.”

With regard to the IPCC report, Exxaro says: “We are aware of the efforts of the IPCC and the recent announcements in Berlin and share the concern for climate change related risks, hence our commitment and investments to date in renewable energy.

Reduce impact of burning coal

“We will continue to seek opportunities to invest in renewable energy projects, as well as technologies that will reduce the negative impact of burning coal for energy generation on the atmosphere.

“Further, we continue to engage with the South African government, directly through DoE, DMR and Eskom, as well as indirectly through various industry bodies such as the NBI and EIUG, to name a few, on issues of electricity security for the country, investment in clean electricity generation and socio-economic development and investment.”