Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., the world’s No. 1 emitter of sulfur dioxide, has agreed with the World Bank to delay the installation of equipment to curb pollution at one of its biggest coal-fired power plants.
The installation of a flue-gas desulfurization unit at the 4,764-megawatt Medupi plant by 2025 had been part of the terms of a $3.75 billion loan from the World Bank in 2010. Now the equipment, costing as much as 40 billion rand ($2.5 billion), will be installed by June 2027, Eskom Chief Executive Officer Andre de Ruyter said at an earnings presentation on Wednesday.
Eskom also disclosed that South Africa’s environment department had dismissed a request for some of its plants to be exempt from air pollution limits. That could force the state-owned utility to close 16,000 megawatts of coal-fired power generating capacity as complying with the ruling would cost more than 300 billion rand, it said. Eskom has been permitted to appeal and that means the plants may remain open until a fresh ruling is made.
Sulfur dioxide pollution causes respiratory illnesses and acid rain. Eskom said that in addition to being expensive, the FGD equipment would increase water consumption, necessitate the use of large quantities of limestone and produce additional carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.