Eskom embraces renewable energy
During the PowerGen 2016 Conference, Eskom’s group chief executive, Brian Molefe, made a plea for decisions about Africa’s power generation not to be based on emotions but on research, facts and scholarship to ensure that the correct choices are made. In support of this fact-based approach, Eskom has established and funded a Centre of Renewable Technologies at Stellenbosch University.
The aim of this centre is to research and drive further developments in renewable technologies. This has been undertaken under the auspices of the Eskom Power Plant Engineering Institute established in 2012. This will include a Nuclear Engineering Specialisation Centre in selected local universities in conjunction with a reputable international university. The objective is to create a brain trust that will consider various technologies, such as renewables and nuclear so that these debates are resolved in a dispassionate manner.
Professor Anton Eberhard and other analysts are entitled to their opinions but not to distort the facts. Here are the facts: the renewable load is not available when needed the most during peak hours. As at March 31, renewable IPPs had a total installed capacity of 2 310 megawatts (MW) and their average load factor is only 31 percent, effectively generating 716MW on average.
This renewable load capacity is mainly available during the day, when Eskom has excess capacity of up to 6 000MW from non-renewable base load stations.
It is by-and-large not available when capacity is needed the most during peak hours. To ensure demand is always met, the non-renewable fleet must always be available and, therefore, does not have the luxury that renewable IPPs have.
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