Eskom board chairperson Mpho Makwana says the R9 billion concessional loan approved for the repurposing of the Komati Power Station is a “significant step” for South Africa’s transition towards clean energy.

The coal fired power station was shut down last week after serving the South African public for at least 60 years and it is set to become South Africa’s first station to be repurposed into a renewable energy site.

“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,” Makwana said.

According to Eskom, the loan will be guaranteed by National Treasury with the repurposing project already approved by the Eskom board.

“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.

“The first phase of the repurposing will install 150MW of photovoltaic, 70MW wind generating capacity, 150MW of Battery Energy Storage System and synchronous condenser,” the power utility said.

A just transition

Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter said the power utility’s recent agreement with the South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre (SARETEC) to educate, reskill and upskill former Komati Power Station workers and qualifying surrounding community members is critical in ensuring that they are not left behind in the energy transition.

“This is in line with Eskom’s drive to ensure that we prepare our people and have a pipeline of local skills ready for the inevitable transition, which will be just.

“Given the accelerated global movement towards investment in a clean energy transition, there is a need in South Africa to upskill, retrain and develop a workforce to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by this transition. To achieve this Eskom is working with its recognised labour unions and representatives of the host community,” de Ruyter said.