Coal-to-power today is exceedingly modest outside South Africa
Using the latest data, 36 coal-fired power plants totaling ~54 GW of installed capacity provide about a third of all electricity produced on the African continent (Table 1). Yet, 86% of this capacity is in one country, South Africa.
Table 1: Coal Power
|Country/Region||Power Stations (#)||Capacity (MW)||Percent of World|
Source: Global Energy Monitor (2021). *Includes existing projects where additional units are under refurbishment or construction.
What about new coal?
Africa’s current coal capacity is a fraction of the global total, but many fear a potential boom on the continent, especially in countries with domestic coal resources. As of 2021, the Global Coal Plant Tracker lists 22 potential new coal plants (excluding refurbishments and existing complexes) across Africa with a total capacity of 13 GW. To assess how many of these projects will actually happen, we analyzed publicly-available information for each project and rated the likelihood of completion (see Table 2). Here’s what we found:
- Only one coal plant with just 0.3 GW appears likely to commission anytime soon.
- Nine plants are already shelved or very unlikely. A further 12 projects of 6.9 GW are unclear; progress is possible, but they are all in a very early phase.
- Zimbabwe, a country notorious for announcing projects that rarely reach fruition, is the main outlier. It is home to the only project rated as likely and a quarter of total pipeline capacity. The 2.8 GW Sengwa project (previously rated Unclear) lost its financial backing in June 2021 and has been downgraded to No/Unlikely.
Conclusion: We remain confident that the future of coal in Africa is dead.
Table 2: New Coal Projects in Africa
|ZhongXin||Zimbabwe||300||Likely||Under construction, but delayed due to COVID|
|Mabesekwa Export Independent Power||Botswana||600||Unclear||Incomplete financing, pre-construction, partially licensed|
|Morupule IPP||Botswana||600||Unclear||Unfunded, pre-construction|
|Sese Integrated Power||Botswana||450||Unclear||Partially licensed, unfunded|
|Imaloto Coal||Madagascar||60||Unclear||Pre-construction planning|
|Rukuru||Malawi||100||Unclear||Pre-construction, no recent info|
|Benga (Kibo Energy)||Mozambique||300||Unclear||Pre-construction, submitted draft PPA|
|Ncondezi||Mozambique||300||Unclear||Delayed, but submitted revised plans|
|Tete||Mozambique||200||Unclear||No recent info, pre-permit stage|
|Musina-Makhado||South Africa||3000||Unclear||Pre-permit, no recent news|
|Mbeya Coal to Power||Tanzania||300||Unclear||Pre-construction|
|Binga Unit 1A + 1B||Zimbabwe||700||Unclear||Pre-construction, planning|
|Yayu||Ethiopia||90||No/Unlikely||Cancelled but could revive|
|San Pedro Port||Ivory Coast||700||No/Unlikely||No progress, likely dead|
|Lamu Power||Kenya||1050||No/Unlikely||Licenses revoked, likely dead|
|Pamodzi Unit 1||Malawi||120||No/Unlikely||Shelved|
|Khanyisa||South Africa||300||No/Unlikely||Funders withdrew, licenses revoked|
|Transalloy||South Africa||150||No/Unlikely||Complex under force majeure|
|Sengwa||Zimbabwe||2800||No/Unlikely||Pre-construction, faces opposition, new Phase 2, Funders withdrew June 2021|
|Western Coal and Energy||Zimbabwe||600||No/Unlikely||Extremely Preliminary|
Source: Global Energy Monitor (2021) and other publicly available data.
Likely: Project at an advanced stage of development and expected to commission soon.
Unclear: Project at an early stage of development or lacking any clear signs of significant recent progress.
No/Unlikely: Project has been shelved, suffered major setbacks, or has shown no progress for multiple years.