Mantashe ready to take battle over coal-fired energy to court

SA mines minister, Gwede Mantashe. Photo: Getty Images

SOUTH Africa’s mines and energy minister, Gwede Mantashe, said he was prepared to take efforts to keep coal in the country’s energy plans to court if necessary.

In an interview with Bloomberg News on the sidelines of the Africa Energy Week conference in Cape Town, Mantashe said new coal-fired power installations were a part of the country’s Integrated Resources Plan (IRP).

An update of the IRP was published by the government in 2019 setting down the composition of new energy builds in which renewable power was prioritised but coal-fired power retained a place in the overall mix.

“I know that we’re going to end up in court for it,” Mantashe said on Tuesday. “Everything we do you end up in court, but I think we should.”

Mantashe has steadfastly defended coal despite growing pressure to ditch new fossil fuel power in favour of greener solutions. Envoys from the UK, US and the EU flew to South Africa in October to offer billions of dollars in concessional loans and grants to ditch the plans for coal, though Mantashe did not meet them, said Bloomberg News.

The construction of 1,500MW of new coal capacity has been included in the IRP and should be retained, Mantashe said. That would allow for the development of cleaner coal technology that could prolong use of the fuel, he said.

Mantashe said that plans to consider exploiting recent gas discoveries required new funding. The battle over how to increase the country’s energy supply comes amid another week of load-shedding.