October 28, 2011 / 5:44 AM / in 6 years

World Bank approves $250 mln for S.Africa's Eskom

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The World Bank on Thursday approved $250 million in funding for South African power utility Eskom to develop a wind and solar plant as part of a push to boost sources of clean energy.

A wind turbine is seen over the panels of a solar power plant in a file photo. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak

The World Bank said the funding through its Clean Technology Fund will finance a 100-megawatt solar power plant in Upington in the Northern Cape province and a 100-megawatt wind power project at Sere, north of Cape Town.

“The loan will help Eskom to implement two of the largest renewable energy projects ever attempted on the African continent,” the bank said in a statement.

Eskom, a major supplier of energy to South Africa and neighboring countries, is keen to reduce its carbon footprint.

The state-owned utility is spending billions of dollars to build and upgrade existing coal-fired power plants to meet immediate energy needs, and wants to diversify the energy mix toward cleaner sources of energy.

Last month, Eskom signed two loan agreements worth $365 million with the African Development Bank to develop the Sere and Upington projects. For more see .

Eskom said it hoped to begin construction of the Sere wind project early next year.

The World Bank came under fire last year for approving a $3.75 billion loan for the development of a coal-fired plant in South Africa, but Eskom said the project was necessary to ease the country’s chronic power shortages.

South Africa hosts global climate talks in the port city of Durban between November 28 and December 9 on a new globally binding climate pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol from 2013. Part of the discussions are on designing a fund to help developing countries tackle climate change.

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