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S. Africa in talks over delaying coal plant closures

STORY: South Africa is meant to be a poster child for the global energy transition.

But on Tuesday (May 21) the head of state utility Eskom said talks were being held with groups funding the country's efforts to decarbonize over delays to the closure of some coal-fired power plants.

At U.N. climate talks in 2021 the likes of the U.S., the UK and the EU pledged a total of $8.5 billion to help Africa's most industrialized economy cut emissions and move away from coal.

But in the struggling South African economy, which relies on ageing coal-fired plants for the majority of its electricity needs, keeping the lights on has been a tough task.

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Eskom has said it intends to delay the shutdown of three power plants until March 2030.

Dan Marokane, the new chief executive of Eskom, told an energy conference in Cape Town that there were concerns over how the company's strategy would impact climate commitments the government has made.

But he said that the rationale behind the delays had been explained to partners as well as the need for "tactical cost adjustment" and that "they've understood all this".

Eskom has managed to suspend the rolling power outages that have plagued the country for years in the two months leading to South Africa's May 29 election.

That poll could see the ruling African National Congress lose its majority for the first time since it came to power in 1994.

South Africa's creaky power sector and its economic fallout in a country with high levels of unemployment are seen as key issues for voters.