Eskom eyes solar to cut emissions


South Africa’s power utility Eskom said on Monday it expects to become a dominant solar energy player as it seeks to reduce its carbon footprint, with plenty of funding available to pay for renewable ventures.
Eskom relies on coal for more than 90% of its power supply, but has vowed to invest in renewable energy and more efficient coal technologies to reduce its absolute carbon dioxide emissions, which totaled 225-million tons in its last financial year, from 2025.
Steve Lennon, Managing Director for Corporate Services, said that while a 100 MW wind farm should come on stream by early 2012 and a 100 MW solar thermal plant should be commissioned by 2015, the state-owned utility was already planning beyond that.
“As a minimum we would see very close to 2 000 MW in solar thermal by 2030, but with a possibility of a lot more depending on how the business case comes out,” he told Reuters in an interview.
Eskom’s solar thermal plans go parallel with a 5 000 MW solar park planned by the government, where the first megawatts are expected to be produced as soon as 2012.
The organisers have said that already having more than 1 000 MW based on solar would make the renewable source cost competitive with traditional coal-fired power.