Eskom eyes investing USD 7.2 billion on solar and wind energy by 2030

Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., which supplies electricity from coal-fired power plants to almost all of South Africa, is considering investing USD 7.2 billion in solar and wind energy by 2030.

The investment plan, which Eskom could execute in partnerships or by itself, is a comprehensive demonstration of the company’s goal to head away from coal by taking advantage of the abundant wind and solar resources available in the country.

The state-owned company anticipates investing approximately USD 4.22 billion and USD 3.03 billion on wind energy and solar energy, respectively, by the decade end.

The potential investment is part of a plan previously disclosed by CEO Andre de Ruyter to bring in money from development-finance institutions for projects that would minimize emissions from a company that constitutes two-fifths of the greenhouse gas output of South Africa.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has instituted a commission to inform him on climate change, but Gwede Mantashe, his energy minister, has publicly opposed Eskom’s plans as he mentions that the transition could wipe out thousands of coal-dependent jobs.

Three phases have been outlined for investment after the assurance of funding and regulatory approvals. The first phase would span from 2022 to 2023 wherein photovoltaic solar power of 246 megawatts could be built at the Duvha, Arnot, Lethabo, Tutuka, and Majuba coal-fired power plants. An additional solar-generation capacity of 100 megawatts at Komati and 19.5 megawatts solar power at the Sere wind-power plant could also be constructed.

The second phase will be from 2023 to 2025, with a 750-megawatt capacity solar power plant at Olyvenhoutsdrift and additional 600 megawatts of photovoltaic power at Sere. The company may also try to build wind power of 300 megawatts at Kleinzee and wind power of 200 megawatts at Aberdeen. Additional renewable energy generation capacity of 250 megawatts could also be built.

The third phase, between 2025 and 2030, plans to add a solar photovoltaic capacity of 2,950 megawatts along with 3,100 megawatts of wind power.

The power generation behemoth currently boasts an annual revenue of about USD 13.5 billion.

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