Eskom lands multimillion-rand funding for Komati training centre

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Komati coal-fired power station is being repurposed to provide clean energy.
Komati coal-fired power station is being repurposed to provide clean energy.
  • Eskom has secured a multimillion-rand deal for a training centre in Mpumalanga as part of its just transition plans.
  • The centre will allow for the reskilling and upskilling of workers and communities to be able to participate in the renewable energy industry.
  • The partners of global funders GEAPP include the Bezos Earth Fund and The Rockefeller Foundation.
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Eskom has secured US$2.17 million (~R38 million) in funding to set up a training facility that will help reskill workers at the Komati power station and communities in the surrounding Mpumalanga region.

News24 Business understands the multimillion-rand grant is to be provided by the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP). The group of global funders which aim to assist developing countries shift to clean energy as part of climate commitments. The alliance includes governments, entrepreneurs and philanthropic partners such as the Bezos Earth Fund, The Rockefeller Foundation, and IKEA Foundation.

In August, Eskom had signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre (SARETEC) of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. The agreement will see SARETEC assist Eskom in setting up a similar renewable energy training facility to upskill artisans and technicians at the Komati power station.

SARETEC is the only fully accredited training centre for renewable energy in South Africa. It has been operating since 2016 and has trained hundreds of technicians in renewable energy skills.

At the time, Eskom CEO André de Ruyter lauded SARETEC for being a leader in its field.

"We are thrilled to be working together with Eskom and SARETEC on this new training facility, which will focus on the upskilling of workers, before decommissioning has even begun. This facility can inform reskilling programs at other power stations and catalyse investment in South Africa's energy transition," said GEAPP's executive director for Africa, Joseph Nganga.

READ | Eskom, CPUT join forces to reskill workers as coal-fired Komati heads for reboot

The Komati Training Facility is aligned to Eskom's just energy transition plans to reskill, retrain and upskill workers and communities – who are currently dependent on the coal-value chain – to be able to participate in the renewable energy industry.

The initiative will help mitigate the risk of job losses while also creating new economic opportunities for young people.

Eskom is repurposing the coal-fired power station Komati to include 150MW solar, 70MW wind and 150MW battery storage. A containerised micro-grid assembly factory will also be established at Komati. Its last unit is due for decommissioning at the end of the month, Eskom said previously.

Once the training centre is complete, it will be managed by Eskom's Academy of Learning (EAL). The EAL will be supported by SARETEC to achieve accreditation over time – which will allow Eskom to replicate the training centre at other locations or stations.

CPUT vice-chancellor Professor Chris Nhlapo shared views that the model should be replicated across South Africa. "By assisting Eskom to set up and accredit its own training facility, SARETEC is fulfilling its mandate of supporting the socio-economic needs of the country, continent, and world," said Nhlapo.

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