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World Bank Approves South Africa’s $497m Grant To Abandon Coal

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According to the World Bank, South Africa, one of the top emitters of greenhouse gases, has received $497 million in finance to decommission one of its biggest coal-fired power facilities and convert it to renewable energy.

The recently shut down Komati power station, which is located 170 kilometers (105 miles) northeast of Johannesburg, will be repurposed using solar and wind energy, supplemented by batteries for storage, according to a statement released by the bank late on Thursday.

The project intends to reduce carbon emissions and foster economic growth in the region, which for more than 60 years has been home to one of Africa’s largest coal plants.

According to World Bank Group President David Malpass, shutting down the Komati plant this week is a positive first step toward low-carbon growth.

In order to finance its transition to greener energy, South Africa received $8.5 billion in loans and grants from a group of wealthy countries during the UN climate conference last year.

However, coal continues to be a major source of dependence for it, providing 80% of its electricity. 41% of the nation’s CO2 emissions come from the power industry.

Widespread power outages brought on by malfunctions at the aging and badly maintained infrastructure of state-owned energy company Eskom have been plaguing Africa’s most industrialized economy.

A transition plan will be in place for the plant’s laid-off employees, and a portion of the funding will go toward developing business prospects in the region.

The financing comes in the form of a $439.5 million World Bank loan, a $47.5 million Canadian Clean Energy and Forest Climate Facility concessional loan, and a $10 million grant from the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), a program designed to aid low- and middle-income nations.

The World Bank earlier this week estimated that South Africa will need at least $500 billion to become carbon neutral by 2050.

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