According to Eskom, the over $500M (R9 billion) World Bank concessional loan accepted for the Komati Power Station restructure is a “major milestone” towards the development of renewable energy. The coal-fired power plant was shut down last week after at least 60 years of service to the nation, and it will soon become the first station in South Africa to be converted into a source of renewable energy.
The National Treasury’s guarantee of the loan is the result of mounting pressure on SA to quickly upgrade renewable energy sources in its energy mix. The National Business Initiative, Business Unity SA, and Boston Consulting Group recently released an integrated energy report that outlines the necessity for the nation to adopt renewables in order to address the present energy problem and realize a just transition.
Commenting on the World Bank loan to fast-track adoption of renewables, Eskom board chairperson Mpho Makwana says: “This is a significant development for South Africa’s Just Energy Transition to renewable energy as it brings the much-needed funding to enable Eskom to train its employees and members of the host communities to empower them to continue playing a central role in the provision of clean energy for the country.
“The loan facility will cover three main components: decommissioning of the Komati Power Station, repurposing and repowering of the station and other elements of the Just Energy Transition, including provision for the training of Eskom employees, community development and stakeholder initiatives.”
According to Eskom, the first stage of the repurposing will involve the installation of 150MW of photovoltaic, 70MW of wind power, 150MW of battery energy storage, and synchronous condenser.
Andre de Ruyter, CEO of Eskom argues that in order to accomplish this goal, the power utility’s recent agreement with the South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre to educate, reskill, and upskill former Komati Power Station employees as well as qualified local community members is essential for making sure they are not left behind in the energy transition.
“To achieve this, Eskom is working with its recognised labour unions and representatives of the host community. This is in line with Eskom’s drive to ensure we prepare our people and have a pipeline of local skills ready for the inevitable transition, which will be just,” Ruyter concluded.