South Africa is forging ahead with a plan to create a new state-owned power company by converting three coal-fired plants into gas-burning generators to ease the nation’s energy crisis.

State power utility Eskom generates most of South Africa’s electricity, and has subjected the country to rolling blackouts since 2008 because its old and poorly maintained facilities can’t keep pace with demand. The proposed new company, dubbed Generation 2, will take over the three plants that are set for decommissioning, according to Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe.”If we re-purpose them into gas power stations, we will save a lot of life in South Africa in terms of energy,” Mantashe said in an interview in his office in Pretoria, adding that it was “urgent” to create the company. The ministry plans to invite engineering firms to study the plants and offer advice, he said.

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