Eskom to turn Komati Power Station into South Africa’s biggest solar and wind energy producer

GOING GREEN: Eskom's oldest coal-fired power station, Komati, just 20km south-east of Witbank turned its last generating turbine off last Monday but its not dead yet as work begins in earnest to convert it into a SA's largest renewable energy plant. PICTURE BY Engineering News

This was in a way Eskom’s oldest coal-powered electricity plant, built in 1961.

The recently closed Eskom’s coal-fired Komati Power Station just outside Witbank is set to continue generating electricity but will now use wind and solar to achieve that.

Eskom announced Monday 31 October 2022 that the 61-year-old power station reached the end of its operating life and had shut down as of last Monday midday.

Eskom said the shutting down of the plant will not have a significant impact on the national electricity grid as it only contributed 121 megawatts.

The closure will also not have a major impact on jobs as scores of workers have been sent to work at other power plants in the Mpumalanga province.

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Komati is one of the power stations that in the 1980s were made to stop supplying electricity due to South Africa having excess generation capacity in those years.

But in 2006, with democracy now in play and black people now allowed to have electricity, it was decided that more power would be needed and that Komati Power Station – well maintained through the an industry process called ‘mothballing’ – should start generating electricity again.

And now Eskom says South Africans should be happy at the closure as it marks “the beginning of another exciting journey in the service of South Africa”.

The group said that as part of a comprehensive Just Energy Transition (JET) Strategy – which places equal importance on the ‘transition to lower carbon technologies,’ – the remaining employees will take part in the Komati Repowering and Repurposing project, which basically will be about converting the coal-powered plant into a renewable energy generation site.

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150 megawatts of solar, 70 megawatts of wind and 150 megawatts of storage batteries is planned for the new project.

Economic opportunities are expected to be galore, Eskom says…

“The development of the Komati Training Facility to facilitate the re-skilling, retraining, and upskilling of Eskom employees and members of the community, as appropriate, is underway.

“Eskom has already signed a partnership agreement with the South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre (SARETEC) of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP) to develop the training facility.”

The group said that funding for this facility has already been received from one of the developmental finance institutions (DFIs), and Eskom will make an official announcement in due course.

(edited by PM)

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