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Eskom to launch solar, battery tenders in 2024 as part of Komati ‘repowering’

Solar panels in front of Komati's cooling towers

Solar panels in front of Komati's cooling towers

7th July 2023

By: Terence Creamer

Creamer Media Editor

     

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Eskom reports that concessional funding of $497-million secured for the repowering and repurposing of the Komati coal power station, in Mpumalanga, is expected to become effective at the end of July.

The final unit of Komati, which entered into commercial operation in 1961, was shut on October 31 last year and the site has since emerged as the flagship location for Eskom’s Just Energy Transition (JET) strategy.

A funding agreement for Komati’s repowering and repurposing was signed in February and includes a blend of finance that includes a $439.5-million loan from the World Bank, a $47.5-million loan from the Canada Clean Energy and Forest Climate Facility and a $10-million grant from the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program.

During a Presidential Climate Commission stakeholder meeting at the Komati site on July 7, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan argued that Komati was where the “tyre hit the road” when it came to implementing the JET strategy.

Gordhan added that it would also provide lessons for its implementation at other stations approaching retirement, including Camden, Hendrina and Grootvlei. However, he indicated that their retirement dates might have to be delayed in light of South Africa’s ongoing loadshedding crisis.

Eskom reported that the funding would be used to implement an initial 100 MW solar photovoltaic project, a 150 MW battery energy storage deployment and a 70 MW wind project to repower the site.

In addition, funds will be employed to support various repurposing projects, such as agrivoltaics and aquaponics schemes, the development of a microgrid assembly line and various training programmes, including technical training for solar and wind installers to be delivered in partnership with the South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre.

The utility has received a Section 34 Ministerial notice approving the development of the solar and battery projects and the National Energy Regulator of South Africa has also provided its concurrence.

An owner’s engineer will be appointed in August to support the development and execution of the repowering projects and Eskom expects to approach the market for the construction of the solar and battery projects in the second quarter of 2024.

Engineering, procurement and construction contractors are expected to be appointed later in the year and construction completed in 2026.

Site-specific wind resource testing is also currently under way and Eskom expects to launch an initial 50 MW wind tender in the third quarter of 2024 for commercial operation in 2027.

Engineering and design is also under way for the construction of three synchronous condensers on the site to offer grid stabilisation services and to help with voltage control. A contractor for the project is also currently scheduled to be appointed later this year and the project implemented in 2025 and 2026.

By 2030, Eskom expects the Komati site to have renewables generation capacity of 370 MW and to have developed a pipeline of further repowering and repurposing opportunities.

By that same date, Eskom expects to have generated 660 net direct full-time jobs in and around Komati, as well as 8 700 temporary jobs. In addition, it is planning for the facility to be training 200 people yearly, while also producing containerised microgrids for use in far-flung areas of South Africa and the rest of Africa.

Eskom told stakeholders that a key lesson to have emerged already related to the need to initiate JET projects well before coal decommissioning so as to limit the disruption that such shutdowns caused to local economies and communities.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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