Should State power utility Eskom show the way to a cleaner and greener energy future through its 15-year roadmap, group CEO Andre de Ruyter believes it will demonstrate Africa’s ability to leapfrog older technologies and “move straight to the latest technologies”.
Eskom, he notes, is responsible for about 25% of Africa’s carbon emissions, making it the largest electricity generator on the continent.
Additionally, considering that electricity is, in this modern day and age, “essential for human dignity”, De Ruyter refers to one of Eskom’s latest technological developments – the modular microgrid.
This, he explains, can be deployed “in a matter of days” to remote and outlying areas that may be too difficult or too costly to connect to conventional grids.
The modular microgrid enables the utility to bring 24/7 electricity to these communities at a “significantly low cost”.
International development agencies have expressed an interest in its roll-out, though De Ruyter notes that a leadership role is still required.
He explains that Eskom will not be a manufacturer of these grids, but would prefer to enable a number of private sector manufacturers to build these, leaving Eskom to “act as a customer” and enable support.
“We want to buy them and then use them to continue on our electrification mission.”
As Eskom cannot be responsible for the entire value chain, owing to its own current commitments, De Ruyter says the utility will likely act as a catalyst that enables development of such microgrids.
“We think there's a very capable and competent private sector that should assume appropriate risk.”
De Ruyter spoke during a keynote address at a COP26-focused discussion hosted by Enlit-Africa.