State-owned power utility Eskom was examining technologies and available supply of fine coal products, including briquettes and pellets, for potential use in power generation.
Eskom aimed to minimise the risks associated with primary energy supply and achieve a sustainable and consistent quality of supply for its power stations by establishing a strategic partnership with fine coal-based product manufacturers.
To this effect, the utility issued a request for information (RFI) earlier this week to assess and identify the markets and potential suppliers of fine coal, coal briquettes, coal pellets and any other fine coal-based products.
Eskom would also examine technologies, capability and capacity of the markets to meet its primary energy requirements.
The information sourced from the RFI would serve as a basis for the formulation of an approach to sourcing fine coal-based products.
Eskom, which currently had about 13 coal-fired power stations, believed that long-term coal supply was being threatened by international competition for South Africa’s coal, which has impacted on the price and availability of suitable coal. The utility recently suggested that some coal resources should be declared ‘strategic’ so that it could be dedicated to the local power generation market.
Eskom commented that long-term strategic supply partnerships with “responsive and flexible” suppliers able to provide security of supply at the lowest total cost of ownership would enable the optimisation of the total business value of primary energy supply.
Of the 237 291 net GWh of electricity produced by Eskom during the 2012 financial year, 218 212 GWh was coal-powered. Over 125-million tons of coal was burnt for this purpose.
Eskom planned to generate about 240 642 GWh of electricity during the next year.
The RFI would look at cost of delivery, sustainability, storage, job creation and skills development, localisation, broad-based black economic empowerment, environmental impact and price and cost structure, besides others.
The RFI was expected to close on August 15.