Eskom has been given permission to bypass pollution abatement equipment at Kusile, generate an additional 2,100MW, and reduce load-shedding by two stages.
Eskom announced that it could operate three units at the Kusile power station without the flue-gas desulfurisation unit, which cuts sulfur dioxide emissions by as much as 99%.
The temporary ruling by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment applies until the end of March 2025 as it conducts repairs at the plant.
Sulfur dioxide is linked to ailments including asthma and heart attacks. In 2021, the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air said Eskom is the world’s biggest emitter of the pollutant.
The postponement is subject to several conditions, including the implementation of measures to mitigate the impact of sulfur dioxide emissions on air quality.
Eskom welcomed issuing an updated Atmospheric Emission Licence (AEL) to Kusile Power Station to reflect this postponement decision by the Nkangala District Municipality.
The repairs to the ducts in the permanent stack will be completed by December 2024. This comes after the failure of the Unit 1 flue gas duct on 22 October 2022.
The failure at Unit 1 subsequently affected units 2 and 3 as the ducts for all these three units are in the same stack (chimney).
The temporary stack structures for Unit 3 will be completed by November 2023, and for units 1 and 2 by December 2023.
Eskom said it would comply with the conditions of the MES postponement and the Atmospheric Emission Licence.