Eskom, South Africa, announces a new partnership for the development of a renewable energy training center

South African power utility Eskom has announced a new partnership with the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP) and the South African Renewable Energy Technology Center (SARETEC). The partnership agreement covers the development of the Komati training center. This aims to contribute to a ‘just’ transition for the local community as the Komati coal plant is decommissioned.

The Komati coal-fired power station was commissioned in 1961 and has a nominal capacity of 1,000 MW. The training center will enable Eskom to retrain, retrain and upskill workers and communities where appropriate. In addition to the training center, which is part of Eskom’s Komati Repowering and Repurposing project, Komati will be powered with 150 MW of solar power, 70 MW of wind power and 150 MW of batteries. Eskom has also established a containerized microgrid assembly plant in Komati. The Komati Repowering and Repurposing Project is one of the largest coal-fired power plant decommissioning, repowering and repurposing projects in the world and will provide a tangible case study for the world on how to transition fuels assets. fossils.

Funding for the training center will be provided by GEAPP. These funds will be used to establish the training center and will enable SARETEC – the only fully accredited renewable energy training center in South Africa by the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) – and Eskom to educate, retrain and upgrade Eskom Komati Power Station staff and eligible beneficiaries from surrounding communities in the Mpumalanga region. Once completed, the training center will be managed by the Eskom Academy of Learning (EAL), which will be supported by SARETEC to achieve accreditation over time, allowing Eskom to replicate this initiative in other locations.

“Eskom is delighted to partner with CPUT, SARETEC and GEAPP on this innovative initiative. The training center complements Eskom’s JET plans to re-ignite – in other words – not just re-power and re-purpose the factory – but to re-skill, re-skill and re-empower people to benefit from the transition that is taking place. announcement. Mpumalanga is endowed with the best resources for a just energy transition – wind, solar, skilled personnel and available grid capacity and therefore has the potential to once again become the thriving energy center of the country.

“South Africa can be a beacon for emerging markets, showing the way forward to achieve a truly just and job-creating energy transition,” said Joseph Nganga, the Alliance’s Executive Director for Africa. Energy for People and Planet (GEAPP).

“We are delighted to be working with Eskom and SARETEC on this new training centre, which will focus on upskilling workers, even before decommissioning begins. This facility can inform conversion programs at other power stations and catalyze investment in South Africa’s energy transition. The partnership agreement presents a unique opportunity for the creation and development of new industries across the renewable energy value chain. Taking full advantage of these opportunities will require retraining and upskilling parts of the South African workforce. This will mitigate the risk of job losses linked to the dismantling of coal-fired power plants and create new job opportunities, especially for unemployed young people. The Komati training center will serve as a model for how these training requirements can be met. »

CPUT Vice-Chancellor Professor Chris Nhlapo thanked Eskom and GEAPP for their confidence in the university and assured them that the project had found the perfect home in SARETEC.

“SARETEC is very different from other energy centers in the world, and I know that we have the skills required to carry out a project of national imperative like this. We will succeed because this model needs to be replicated across South Africa. Pursuing a cleaner, greener energy mix is ​​the only way to address the electricity challenges in this country. We are also grateful to be part of a solution that provides the Komati community with economic opportunities for the future. By helping Eskom set up and accredit its own training center, SARETEC fulfills its mandate to support the socio-economic needs of the country, the continent and the world.

Eskom plans to decommission 5,400 MW of electricity from coal generation by 2022, 10,500 MW by 2030 and 35,000 MW by 2050 (IRP, 2019). Power plants awaiting decommissioning include Komati, Grootvlei, Camden, Hendrina, Arnot and Kriel by 2030. Komati will be the pilot site for the repurposing and re-engining of its plant.

South Africa’s contribution to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is classified as high and its per capita emission rate is above the global average. Energy demand in the country is expected to increase steadily and double by 2025, which will have a significant impact on climate change. Eskom’s Just Energy Transition (JET) Office was established earlier in 2020 and has made significant progress in advancing the evolution of the transition to a cleaner and greener energy future. JET’s vision focuses on achieving Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050, with increased sustainable jobs. Some of the added benefits of moving towards low carbon technologies are the positive impact on air quality and water use, the potential for creating exciting new jobs and greater conservation biodiversity in South Africa.

Image courtesy of Eskom.


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