South Africa's Eskom makes progress on renewable energy transition

A local walks past electricity pylons during frequent power outages from South African utility Eskom, caused by its aging coal-fired plants, in Orlando, Soweto, South Africa, September 28, 2022. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 14 (Reuters) - South African power utility Eskom said on Friday it had signed agreements for four renewable power producers to use land around its power plants, which would accelerate getting new capacity online.

The deals should help bring more renewable capacity onto South Africa's power grid, which is primarily supported by coal-fired electricity.

State-controlled Eskom has committed to replace 22,000 megawatts (MW), or almost half of its thermal power capacity, with renewable power by 2035. But progress has been slow and the country's renewable capacity bidding rounds have been delayed by months. read more

Eskom said the agreements would give the independent power producers access to commercial leases and use of land parcels to set up renewable capacity at two of its power stations with direct access to the national grid.

The projects would consist of wind, solar and battery storage and are expected to generate up to 2,000 MW of power, it said, adding it would take at least 24 to 36 months for the capacity to come online.

The agreements are "compelling proof" of the energy transition to a lower carbon economy, said Eskom's Chief Executive Officer Andre de Ruyter in a statement.

South Africa is the world's 12th biggest carbon emitter, pumping out 430 megatonnes of CO2 in 2019. With coal-fired power plants accounting for 80% of its power generation, Eskom's transition to renewables is a priority.

($1 = 18.2150 rand)

Reporting by Kopano Gumbi Editing by Promit Mukherjee and Mark Potter

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