South Africa faces “another era of isolation” if it persists with coal power generation, the chief executive of state-owned utility Eskom said, arguing a pivot to cleaner energy would boost the competitiveness of the country’s exports.
Chief Executive Andre de Ruyter made the comments in Eskom’s annual report for the year ended March 2021, when the utility trimmed its net loss to 18.9 billion rand ($1.3 billion) from a 20.8 billion rand loss a year earlier.
He did not elaborate on the remarks in the report released on Tuesday, but they appeared to be a reference to the country’s period of isolation during apartheid.
De Ruyter has long-term ambitions for Eskom, the continent’s worst greenhouse gas emitter which operates 15 coal-fired power stations, to shift away from coal and towards renewable energy sources like solar and wind.
Analysts have flagged the carbon intensity of South Africa’s economy as a major risk as investors and governments become increasingly attuned to climate concerns.