Power utility Eskom signed a letter of intent with the Netherlands Embassy on Wednesday, to collaborate on two Just Energy Transition initiatives for its Grootvlei Power Station.
The collaboration, supported by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, includes a pre-feasibility study for a climate-conscious and agricultural development on the site and a sustainable approach to repurpose it.
Eskom said the aim of the study is to determine the most applicable climate-smart, labour-intensive farming and agricultural-related repurposing opportunities for the Grootvlei Power Station.
This comes after the Netherlands Embassy embarked on grant-funded agricultural-related studies at the Grootvlei station, in 2021. “The Grootvlei Power Station was selected due to the site repurposing potential, strategic location [proximity to the industrial hub in Gauteng], and accessibility [along the N3 highway],” it adds in a statement issued on Thursday.
“By supporting a participative, multi-stakeholder process to develop transition pathways and creating new, green employment opportunities, the Just Energy Transition at Grootvlei can become an inspiration, and blueprint for other sites that will also transition,” said Eskom.
The move is anticipated to facilitate a positive social, economic and environmental impact on the surrounding communities and further empower local residents to be involved in new site operations.
“These repurposing opportunities will be employed in addition to the renewable energy repowering options that are currently being assessed for the site.”
Eskom says the Just Energy Transition in South Africa should accelerate a green and inclusive economy and leave no one behind.
“Eskom is therefore committed to ensuring that the socio-economic and environmental benefits of transitioning are realised, that employees and communities are involved in finding the solutions, and that the transition does not exacerbate the already high unemployment rate in our country, but results in a net increase in sustainable jobs,” it adds.
The power utility noted that the collaboration has thus far resulted in a Geographical Information Systems (GIS) study of the Grootvlei area, a repurposing options assessment, a preliminary situational analysis of the property by horticulture experts, and soil and water quality analyses by specialists.
Grootvlei isn’t the only power station to be repurposed.
Detailing his energy plan on 25 July, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that it would include the repurposing of old power stations, with the Komati, Majuba and Lethabo power stations to be among the first to be converted to solar power and battery storage.
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Nondumiso Lehutso is a Moneyweb intern.