World Bank $350m Eskom Clean Energy loan decision expected soon

The World Bank’s Clean Technology Fund is expected to take a final decision on a $350-million loan for South Africa’s power utility Eskom no later than June, a minister said on Tuesday.

State-owned Eskom, which is spending billions of dollars to build and upgrade existing coal-fired power plants, wants to diversify the energy mix of Africa’s largest economy towards cleaner sources such as solar and wind.

Eskom submitted a $350-million loan application to the World Bank, the African Development Bank and other co-financiers – through the Clean Technology Fund (CTF) – to finance a 100 MW concentrated solar power plant and a separate 100 MW wind power plant.

“The CTF appraisal team was in South Africa (between) 7 February and 12 February 2011 and the final outcome is expected in June 2011 at the very latest,” Sibusiso Ndebele, Transport Minister and chairman of government’s infrastructure development cluster, told a media briefing.

South Africa could produce its first solar power from a mooted solar park by 2012, and depending on investor appetite, eventually supplying 5,000 MW of power as a viable and cost-effective alternative to energy from coal.

South Africa currently gets about 90-95 percent of its electricity from coal-fired plants.