Swaziland bins big power plant

SWAZILAND no longer plans to build a 1000 megawatts power plant to cut its reliance on imported electricity - but may opt for a smaller one instead, its power company said yesterday.

SWAZILAND no longer plans to build a 1000 megawatts power plant to cut its reliance on imported electricity - but may opt for a smaller one instead, its power company said yesterday.

The land-locked country currently produces 70 MW of power from hydro plants with the remainder of its demand of 200MW met by imports from South Africa. Media reports said the small country of 1,1million people still wanted to reduce its reliance on South Africa, especially in the face of fast rising tariffs in the continent's biggest economy.

Swaziland Electricity Company (SEC) said it plans to build a coal-fired plant, but on a much smaller scale.

"(Swaziland) intends building a significantly scaled down plant capacity ... the feasibility study will indicate the optimal plant size," it said in an e-mailed response to questions.

"SEC wants to invest in a power station in order to mitigate power supply risks as well as to mitigate tariff hikes."

The company declined to elaborate on why plans for the bigger plant, which would have allowed it to export power to its neighbours, were scrapped. But it said that the coal reserves needed to power the new plant were "considerable".

A source of finance for the project would be identified after the completion of a feasibility study, it said. - Reuters

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