- South Africa’s power utiltiy, Eskom, and the Kingdom of the Netherlands Embassy yesterday signed a letter of intent to guide the next phase of the collaboration between the two parties.
- This collaboration will provide guidance for all future work between Eskom and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the communities to determine tangible outcomes.
In the next phase of the collaboration Eskom and the Netherlands Embassy, supported by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, intend to work along two tracks; pre-feasibility for a climate-smart, labour-intensive agricultural/horticulture development on the Grootvlei Power Station site, and an integrated and sustainable approach for repurposing of the Grootvlei Power Station site.
Eskom’s Just Energy Transition office places equal importance on the ‘transition to lower carbon technologies,’ and the ability to do so in a manner that is ‘just.’ Eskom is therefore committed to ensuring that the socio-economic and environmental benefits of transitioning are realised, that employees and communities are involved in finding the solutions, and that the transition does not exacerbate the already high unemployment rate in our country but results in a net increase in sustainable jobs.
“We are keen to assess all options for repurposing our sites, that will ensure greater community involvement, innovative revenue creation and upliftment of the socio-economic standing of these areas,” said the utility.
The Kingdom of the Netherlands is committed to combat climate change and supports the Just Energy Transition in South Africa. This transition should accelerate a green and inclusive economy and leave no one behind.
In keeping with this drive for alternative employment and economic development opportunities from both parties, in 2021, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands embarked on grant-funded agricultural related studies at Grootvlei Power Station, based on the vast experience of the Netherlands in this regard. The Grootvlei Power station was selected due to the site repurposing potential, strategic location (proximity to the industrial hub, Gauteng) and accessibility (along the N3 highway).
The Netherlands Embassy drew on the expertise of the Territorial Development team of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency given their expertise in the development of integrated territorial development approaches in the Netherlands and abroad. By supporting a participative, multi-stakeholder process to develop transition pathways and creating new, green employment opportunities, the Just Energy Transition at Grootvlei can become an inspiration, and blueprint for other sites that will also transition.
The aim of the study is to determine the most applicable climate-smart, labour-intensive farming and agricultural related repurposing opportunities for the Grootvlei Power Station site, to create a positive social, economic, and environmental impact on the surrounding area, whilst ensuring local community involvement and empowerment. These repurposing opportunities will be employed in addition to the renewable energy repowering options that are currently being assessed for the site. These activities are complementary and fulfil the aim of Eskom’s JET strategy to meet both decarbonisation and socio-economic goals.
The collaboration thus far has resulted in a Geographical Information Systems study of the Grootvlei area, a repurposing options assessment, a preliminary situational analysis of the property by horticulture experts, and soil and water quality analyses by specialists.
Author: Bryan Groenendaal