Eskom and Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba opened a solar photovoltaic (PV) installation at its Lethabo power station near Vereeniging in Gauteng, on Monday.
The first stage of the pilot project was designed to introduce renewable energy sources to supply power for internal use at Eskom’s coal-fired power stations, Eskom said in a statement.
This would reduce the company’s carbon footprint by approximately 2845 tons per annum.
Solar photovoltaic technologies use the power of the sun to generate electricity.
Eskom said it had a long-term strategy to reduce its carbon footprint and its immediate priority was to reduce emissions at its existing fleet of power stations.
“The solar PV project forms a significant part of that strategy and the lessons learned at the pilot plants will support the rollout of these systems across all Eskom’s coal-fired stations over time.”
The pilot plants, each 10,000 square metres in size, were located on greenfield sites adjacent to the coal-fired power stations at Lethabo, Kendal in Mpumalanga, and at Eskom’s head office at Megawatt Park in Sunninghill, Johannesburg.
The electricity generated from the solar PV plants would provide power during daylight hours for the administration buildings, security and terrace lighting, and unit lighting board, thereby reducing auxiliary power consumption.
The total electricity generated from these solar PV plants is 1.55 megawatt and could power about 1900 standard suburban houses with an assumed consumption of 200 kilowatt per month.
Eskom said with its two renewable energy projects – the 100 megawatt wind power plant in Sere, 300km north of Cape Town and the solar power plants – it would serve as a catalyst to develop the renewable energy industry.
At the end of October the World Bank approved a US250 million (R1.9 billion) loan for Eskom’s solar and wind power project.
The loan was funded by the Clean Technology Fund for low-carbon technologies.