Eskom in partnership to train renewable energy artisans

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 23 Aug 2022

Power utility Eskom and the South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre (Saratec) yesterday signed a memorandum of agreement to formalise a collaboration to develop renewable energy artisan skills in South Africa, to support the implementation of the Eskom Just Energy Transition (JET) strategy.

In a statement, Eskom says it has developed a comprehensive JET strategy that places equal importance on the “transition to lower carbon technologies,” and the ability to do so in a manner that is “just”.

In support of this strategy, Eskom has a pipeline of clean energy projects at various stages of development and recognises there is a dire lack of skills along the value chain.

Eskom’s JET office was established in 2020 and has made significant strides to progress the evolution for transition towards a cleaner and greener energy future.

JET’s vision focuses on achieving “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050, with an increase in sustainable jobs.

President Cyril Ramaphosa recently said the JET framework will serve as a key evidence-based guide for policy-making for SA’s transition from a carbon-intensive economy towards a greener and cleaner economy.

He emphasised the JET framework will have implications for the education and social security sectors, and will also require work to be done to ensure the framework finds expression within government plans and budgets.

As an initiative of the Department of Higher Education and Training through the National Skills Fund, Saratec was established as the first national renewable energy technology centre and is managed by the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

The centre expedites specialised industry-related and accredited training for the entire renewable energy industry, including short courses and workshops.

Eskom notes Saratec has, since its inception, established itself not only as a renewable energy subject matter expert but significantly contributed to the national skills pool of artisans and technicians, with a special focus on wind and solar.

Saratec will support Eskom for the next 36 months to establish a similar renewable energy training facility fit for purpose to train artisans and technicians at Eskom’s Komati Power Station.

The facility will be managed by Eskom’s Academy of Learning.

The power utility notes the respective renewable energy industry associations − the South African Wind Energy Association and South African Solar Photovoltaic Industry Association − are an integral part of the South African renewable energy industry as they promote innovation and cohesion among all the role-players and stakeholders.

Most importantly, it adds, both Eskom and Saratec, as members of these associations, continue to draw ongoing support, which is well demonstrated on this project.

The objective is to educate, reskill and upskill Eskom Komati Power Station staff and qualifying beneficiaries from the surrounding communities in the Mpumalanga region.

This is in line with Eskom’s JET drive and Saratec’s vision to ensure a pipeline of local skills responding to economic needs and readiness for the inevitable transition.

“Given the accelerated global movement towards investment in a clean energy transition, there is a need in SA to upskill, retrain and develop a workforce to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by this transition,” says Eskom.

“Moreover, the risk of job losses and redundancy due to the transition presents an opportunity to provide training and upskilling for new industries that can be scaled up as a result of the transition, particularly the renewables industry.”

Eskom and Saratec say they are committed to continue to partner with key stakeholders to ensure the JET goals are met in an inclusive and collaborative manner, drawing on the skills of all key role-players.