World Bank Group President David Malpass on Monday visited the decommissioned Komati coal-fired power plant in South Africa. It is Mr. Malpass’s first trip to South Africa as World Bank Group President, and it comes during COP 27 in Egypt.
The visit follows the World Bank Group’s Board approval last week of the Government of South Africa’s request for a $497 million project to decommission and repurpose the Komati coal-fired power plant using renewables and batteries, while creating new opportunities for the affected workers and communities.
“During COP 27, President Malpass will highlight the World Bank’s activities to integrate climate and development, the need for impactful investments in key systems transitions, including in the energy sector, and the importance of concessional and grant financing for developing countries as they undertake investments in global public goods to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,” the World Bank said in a statement.
To meet its climate change and energy security targets, the Government of South Africa is implementing the Integrated Resource Plan 2019, which aims to retire 12 GW of aging coal fired power plants by 2030 while installing 18 GW of renewables. The power sector is a major contributor to GHG emissions in South Africa, accounting for 41% of its CO2 emissions.
“I am encouraged to see South Africa taking steps to produce more electricity while finishing the closure of the 60-year-old Komati coal plant. Moving toward an efficient lower carbon growth model will require large investments in new capacity and grid upgrades to absorb renewables. These are important steps to repair the ailing energy sector and provide reliable access to electricity for businesses and people,” said World Bank Group President, David Malpass. “The Komati project recognizes the social challenges of the transition, especially for coal-reliant regions like Mpumalanga. Helping affected workers and communities is an important component of the project.”
The Just Energy Transition Project at the Komati coal fired power plant is a demonstration project that can serve as a model for future projects, in South Africa and around the world. It has three focal areas: mitigating climate change through reducing carbon emissions; improving energy security through repurposing the project area with renewables and batteries; and creating socio-economic opportunities for workers and communities impacted. The project will provide learning experiences through a cycle of piloting, monitoring, assessing, documenting, and information sharing on decommissioning and repurposing coal plants in a sustainable and inclusive manner.
“We welcome President Malpass’s visit to South Africa to support Eskom’s project to decommission and repurpose the Komati coal fired plant. The program is in line with our broader Just Transition Framework recently endorsed by our cabinet. We cannot walk this road alone. The fact is that the poor and middle-income countries like South Africa will be disproportionately affected by climate change. The success of our ambitions will depend greatly on financial support from our global partners,” said Enoch Godongwana, Minister of Finance for South Africa.
The visit reaffirms the World Bank Group’s commitment to partnering with South Africa for better development outcomes for all of its people.
The World Bank Group remains the largest multilateral financier of climate action in developing countries, having delivered a record $31.7 billion for climate related investments in the 2022 fiscal year. This is complemented by the launch of Country Climate and Development Reports (CCDRs) as new core diagnostic reports that integrate climate change and development considerations which can help countries prioritize the most impactful actions that can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and boost adaptation, while delivering on broader development goals. For South Africa, the recently released CCDR shows that the country could achieve both its development and climate goals by embracing a triple transition that is low-carbon, climate-resilient and just.