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Netherlands, Eskom to implement just transition initiatives at Grootvlei power station

21st June 2023

By: Schalk Burger

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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The Kingdom of the Netherlands and South African State-owned power utility Eskom have signed a letter of intent to collaborate on the development and implementation of just energy transition (JET) initiatives to support job creation and community upliftment around the Grootvlei power station.

The initiatives are aimed at increasing job creation, driving economic growth and improving the local environment surrounding the Grootvlei power station as it transitions from coal generation into a renewable energy hub.

A preceding agreement in July 2022 led to Eskom and the Netherlands undertaking a prefeasibility study for a “climate-smart, labour-intensive agriculture/horticulture development” at the Grootvlei power station, in Mpumalanga.

“Using technology in agriculture to minimise the effects of climate change while creating jobs in the sector are points of mutual importance for Eskom and the Netherlands,” Eskom said in a statement on June 21.

The new agreement provides an integrated and sustainable approach for repurposing the Grootvlei power station, as the site transitions, it averred.

“This marks a milestone in South Africa’s transition away from coal reliance and a key moment in Eskom’s partnership with the Netherlands. The letter of intent aligns on the need to develop and implement a smart agriculture demonstration facility, to collaborate further on agricultural activities and to train community members at the Grootvlei power station,” said Eskom.

The partners seek to develop further opportunities to create jobs by training and upskilling people from the local communities.

Under the terms of the agreement, the parties also plan to explore the potential of creating a market in the region for profitable, productive, sustainable and climate-smart farming. A climate-smart horticulture demonstration site will be developed, further creating job opportunities.

Additionally, relevant knowledge and skills will be transferred between the Netherlands and South Africa, and local enterprises’ businesses will be improved while promoting the creation of new enterprises.

Further, synergies will also be explored and identified with the broader just energy transition training facility at Grootvlei power station, the utility highlighted.

“The collaboration embodies the just energy transition. For the energy transition to be just, it must consider the social impacts on surrounding communities, namely potential impacts on jobs and local economies.

“Eskom believes that, as it transitions to cleaner sources of power, it must do so in a responsible manner that considers all impacts and stakeholders, including coal mining communities that will be impacted by the transition.”

The utility will continue to undertake socio-economic studies to understand the impact of the closure of the coal plants and how to mitigate its impact.

Further, Eskom also seeks to repower and repurpose other existing coal plants in line with the approach taken in partnership with the Netherlands.

This is aimed at preserving jobs and utilising existing grid capacity across South Africa. These projects will prioritise Mpumalanga’s oldest coal plants. The coal plants will be repowered by leveraging the existing infrastructure to build new generation capacity including solar, wind, batteries and/or synchronous condensers.

The plants may also be repurposed into new centres of economic activity such as training centres, water treatment facilities, manufacturing plants, microgrid assemblies and modern farms.

Eskom also recognises the existing capacity constraints in the country, as coal-fired power stations reach the end of their operational lives.

“Eskom will explore multiple avenues to ensure system stability and manage security of supply, including repowering and transitioning coal power stations with renewable energy, as well as continuing to operate power stations beyond their shutdown dates where it is practically possible and in line with legislation.

“Eskom aims to continue building on the strong relationship developed with the Kingdom of the Netherlands to drive impact together. Eskom values the commitment of the Netherlands in helping to combat climate change and support the just energy transition in South Africa,” it said.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online



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