South African state utility, Eskom, will repurpose the retired Komati coal-fired power station with 220MW of renewables capacity, comprising of a 150 MW solar PV system, a 70 MW wind energy plant and a 150 MW battery energy storage system to ensure grid reliability and sustainability.
Dubbed the Komati Just Energy Transition project, Eskom will use a $439.5 million loan from the World Bank, a $47.5 million loan from the Canadian Clean Energy and Forest Climate Facility and a $10 million grant from the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program to deploy the $497 million project.
H.E Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Public Enterprises of South Africa, stated that “This project is critical to our understanding of the sustainability of decommissioning, repurposing, and mitigating the socio-economic impacts for workers and communities before we scale up the move of the power sector into a low-carbon path. It is part of implementing the country’s Integrated Resource Plan 2019 to gradually retire 12 GW of our old and inefficient coal-fired power fleet by 2030 and to scale up private sector-led renewables of 18 GW during the same period.”
Repurposing of Komati will enable Eskom to re- and upskill its workforce with renewables skills and fast-track the country’s energy transition whilst ensuring it is just and inclusive. The project is expected to create employment opportunities in the renewables, agriculture, manufacturing and digital technology landscape for up to 15,000 local people.
Meanwhile, Komati represents one of Eskom’s 15 coal-powered plants which are major contributors of greenhouse gas emissions in South Africa. The power industry in South Africa, which is currently dominated by coal power generation, accounts for 41% of greenhouse gas emissions.
“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a difficult challenge worldwide, and particularly in South Africa given the high carbon intensity of the energy sector,” stated David Malpass, Group President of the World Bank, adding that the closing of the plant represents “a good first step towards low carbon development.”