S Africa grants $4bn power deals

Hitachi Africa and French energy giant Alstom win bids for coal-fired power station.

    Sarkozy, left, vowed to support South Africa's efforts to overcome electricity shortages [AFP]

    South Africa has been gripped by a power shortage as Eskom struggles to meet demand. The country's mining industry ground to a halt for five days in January as rolling blackouts intensified and millions of homes were left without power.
     
    'Victim of own success'
     
    Sarkozy vowed to help South Africa overcome an acute electricity shortage, saying: "You are victims of your own success."
     
    A team of French engineers will arrive next week to advise the government and Eskom on possible solutions.
     
    South Africa's sustained economic growth is partly responsible for the electricity shortage but South Africa's government concedes it ignored calls 10 years ago for more investment in power-generating facilities.
     
    Eskom wants to double generating capacity by 2011 by bringing three mothballed power stations back into production and building new power stations.
     
    It plans to spend about $46bn increasing its generating capacity over the next five years.
     
    Eskom said first activity on the Bravo site in South Africa's Mpumalanga province is expected in 2008. The first generating unit is due for completion late in 2013 and other units would come into operation at eight-month intervals.
     
    Alstom signed a separate turbine contract last November for a new power plant in the northern province of Limpopo.
     
    South Africa is dependent on coal powered stations for more than 90 per cent of its electricity. However, it wants to expand its nuclear power generating capacity with the construction of a second nuclear power station.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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