Eskom comes second on world emissions list

Posted by Laura Grant on December 10, 2007
Posted in Business

Photograph © acilo/iStockphoto

For years South Africa’s electricity has been among the cheapest in the world, now we can add another distinction: our electricity utility, Eskom, is the second-highest carbon dioxide-emitting power company in the world, according to the Carbon Monitoring for Action (CARMA) database launched last month.

The database makes interesting reading. Overall, South Africa ranks eighth on the list of countries for the emissions produced by their power sectors. The United States (2.8-billion tons a year) and China (2.7-billion tons) unsurprisingly take the top places. Australia (226-million tons) just edges ahead of South Africa (222-million tons) and Britain (212-million tons) follows in ninth place.

Our power sector is far and away the biggest emitter in Africa. Egypt is the next largest with 45-million tons. Interestingly, Nigeria (7.7-million tons) is number six – 40 percent of its electricity is hydropower.

Thanks to a hydropower, the carbon dioxide emissions of the top five South American countries together add up to less than half of South Africa’s – Argentina (32.8-million tons), Brazil (24-million tons), Chile (23-million tons), Venezuela (14-million tons) and Colombia (8.6-million tons). An average of 70 percent of the power generated in these five countries is hydro. Brazil is particularly notable because it generates 423-million Mwh of electricity – South Africa’s total is 246-million MWh.

According to CARMA, Eskom’s 30 power plants belched out 214-million tons of carbon dioxide to produce 237-million MWh of electricity. Although an Eskom spokesperson told the Pretoria News that Eskom, in fact, emitted “only” 209-million tons of carbon last year. The contribution of China’s Huaneng is 292-million tons of carbon dioxide from 44 power plants generating 216-million MWh of electricity.

In terms of individual power stations, South Africa is home to seven of the world’s top-30 carbon emitters.
#8 Kendal, Witbank (28-million tons)
#12 Majuba, Volksrust (26.5-million tons)
#18 Matimba, Ellisras (25.5-million tons)
#25 Lethabo, Viljoensdrift (23.3-million tons)
#26 Tutuka, Standerton (22.8-million tons)
#27 Duvha, Witbank (22.4-million tons)
#28 Matla, Bethal (22.4-million tons).

Nineteen of South Africa’s power plants are classified as “red alerts”, which CARMA defines as dirty, producing more than 1,750 pounds (0.8 tons) of carbon dioxide per MWh.

According to CARMA, power sector emissions make up 25 percent of the global total, 40 percent of carbon emissions in the United States, and they are a primary cause of global warming.

The CARMA database is part of the Confronting Climate Change Initiative at the Washington-based Center for Global Development.


2 Responses to “Eskom comes second on world emissions list”

  1. Daizy
    March 25th, 2009 @ 10:58 am

    Very useful site.

  2. Laura Grant
    March 25th, 2009 @ 11:11 am

    thank you.

Leave a Reply