The World Bank Group has approved a loan request for US$497 million for a project to decommission and repurpose the Komati coal-fired power plant to instead use renewable energy and batteries.
The plant, which has been operating since 1961, had its final generating unit taken offline at midday on Monday, state-owned power utility Eskom said.
The loan has now been approved by the group’s board, a key step towards converting the plant into a renewable generation site, also adding to the country’s ailing power grid.
Eskom says the new Komati power station will include the provision of 150MW of solar, 70MW of wind and 150MW of storage batteries.
It was also hoped that the project would serve as a global reference on how to transition fossil-fuel assets.
The World Bank Group says this project will also create opportunities for the affected workers and communities with an emphasis on training.
World Bank Group president David Malpass says reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a difficult challenge worldwide, and particularly in South Africa, given the high carbon intensity of the energy sector.
But he says the decommissioning of the Komati coal-fired plant will result in reduced carbon emissions and improvement of ambient air quality in the vicinity of the plant.
Gauteng and Mpumalanga have seen frequent bad odours emanating from industries and power plants.
The power sector is a major contributor to greenhouse gases in South Africa, accounting for 41% of its CO2 emissions.