Reducing Eskom's environmental footprint and pursuing low-carbon growth

Environmental performance and reducing Eskom’s environmental and carbon footprint remain key focus areas for Eskom and every effort is made to reduce the impact of existing plant through improved management, and where required, plant modifications. New plant and infrastructure is designed to be more efficient and ensure that negative impacts on the natural environment and human health are minimised

Eskom continues to reduce its carbon footprint by exploring and implementing renewable technologies and purchasing energy from renewable energy IPPs. Eskom believes a balanced approach is necessary to ensure environmental sustainability whilst supporting economic growth and access to affordable electricity.

Operating highlights

Water-usage and environmental-emissions targets were met, with substantial improvement in the water-usage performance compared to the previous year
Additional maintenance improved emissions performance at several power stations
Eskom’s Sere wind farm project has shown progress with the installation of 10 of 46 wind turbines by 31 March 2014
Eskom secured co-financing loan agreements for the proposed concentrated solar thermal station near Upington

Operating challenges

Eskom’s request for a variation of the particulate emission conditions in Kriel power station’s atmospheric emission licence was denied and the licence will not allow the continuous operation of the station at full rated power
New atmospheric emission licences were received for all power stations with the exception of Matimba and Lethabo power stations. Outstanding licences are expected to be received early in the new financial year
Water quality from some catchments is deteriorating, and having a negative impact on some power stations due to limited capacity to treat the pollution in the water

Future focus areas

Eskom will continue to implement the compliance programme to achieve full compliance to environmental requirements, specifically: atmospheric emission licences, waste management permits, water use licences, environmental authorisations and biodiversity related permits
The minimum emission standards are effective from 2015. Eskom is unable to meet the emissions standards at all sites within the required timelines, and has submitted an application for a five-year postponement for some power stations in terms of section 6 of the Listed Activities and Associated Minimum Emission Standards
Continue to work towards Blue drop (water treatment) and Green drop (sewerage works) certification by March 2016
Completion and commissioning of Sere wind farm project in the 2014/15 financial year
The implementation of a carbon tax, and the resultant possible increase in tariffs remains a challenge in terms of the economic impact thereof. National Treasury’s announcement on the deferment of the implementation to January 2016, however, provides further opportunities for Eskom to engage with National Treasury

Reducing Eskom’s environmental footprint

Eskom’s overall environmental performance is assessed in terms of relative particulate emissions, specific water consumptions (water usage for all commissioned power stations) and the number of environmental legal contraventions. Relative emissions entail the measurement of emissions intensity, which is the amount of emissions per unit of output.

Key performance areas for reducing Eskom’s environmental footprint

Indicator and unit
Relative particulate emissions, kg/MWh sent out 0.29   0.36   0.35   0.35   0.31    
Specific water consumption, L/kWh sent out1 1.21   1.39   1.35   1.42   1.34    
Environmental legal contraventions in terms of the operational health dashboard2 0   0   2   23   5    

1. The volume of water consumed per unit of generated power from commissioned power stations.
2. Under certain conditions, contraventions of environmental legislation are classified in terms of the Eskom operational health dashboard index. These include instances where censure was received from authorities, non-reporting to authorities as may be legally required, non-reporting in Eskom, a repeat legal contravention, or when the contravention was not addressed adequately.
3. Increased from previously reported figure (1) due to an additional legal contravention that was identified during the year for activities associated with the underground coal gasification (UCG) project, in October 2012.

Provisions for environmental measures (R million)

Power station-related environmental restoration – nuclear plant 9 331   7 177   5 428  
Power station-related environmental restoration – other power plant 6 942   6 762   4 731  
Mine-related closure, pollution control and rehabilitation 4 366   4 309   2 476  

Refer to note 28 of the 2014 annual financial statements at www.eskom.co.za/IR2014/01.html