Eskom news: Utility releases coal land for clean energy

Big Eskom news buried among the load shedding: The company has announced the companies that will be leasing land around some of its dirtiest coal plants for clean energy projects. 

A request for proposals went out in April and four independent producers have been announced as successful bidders.

They are:

  • HDF Energy South Africa
  • Red Rocket SA
  • Sola Group
  • Mainstream Renewable Power Developments South Africa

Together, they are leasing over 6000 hectares of land for a period of up to 30 years around the Tutuka and Majuba stations in Mpumalanga.

The scope of this construction phase is expected to yield around 2000 megawatts of electricity. This is equivalent to two stages of national load shedding.
Eskom says they are responding to the president’s call for ambitious and bold moves to solve the energy crisis.

The company also intends to continue releasing more of its land every quarter.

Big Eskom News

Generation is expected to start 24 to 36 months after financial closure, zoning approval, environmental assessment and other regulatory requirements. These processes will theoretically be streamlined as part of South Africa’s latest response to the electricity crisis.

Firstly, studies have to be conducted to identify the best form of electricity on the available land. The final projects will be a yet-unknown mix of wind, solar and battery storage.

Wide shot of generic coal power station spewing toxic chemicals into the air

Mpumalanga province has some of the worst air pollution in the world.

Mpumalanga province is not typically known for wind and solar generation, but there are major advantages to encroaching on coal country.

It may ease political opposition to clean energy projects as investment and jobs are to remain in the coal-rich areas. And, major connections to the national grid are already on site.

This phase alone will attract “estimated investment of some R40 billion to areas traditionally associated with coal-fired electricity generation makes this a compelling proof point for the just energy transition to a lower carbon economy,” according to Eskom CEO André de Ruyter.

Chiefly, while taking advantage of Eskom’s transmission network, these private projects bear no direct financial risk to the South African taxpayer.

The utility says it is committed to its Just Energy Transition (JET) Strategy.