South African state-run power utility, Eskom, has confirmed its long-term investment in renewables research, which has been supported by the CSIR and Stellenbosch University.
Eskom divisional executive for corporate affairs, Chose Choeu, emphasised that these partnerships are long-term and are fundamental to ensure that a sustainable legacy for the people of South Africa is secured.
“Eskom’s unique role in driving the socio-economic growth requires us to work intimately with academic institutions to develop path-breaking knowledge base in the science environment,” Choeu said.
Renewables research success
According to Choeu, Eskom’s Power Plant Engineering Institute (EPPEI) has a renewable energy specialisation centre as part of the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES) based at Stellenbosch University.
Echoing Eskom’s contribution in the renewable space, Choeu pointed out that CRSES received R2.6 million ($227,000) in 2016, from Eskom’s EPPEI, and planned funding for 2017 is projected at about R4 million ($302,693).
They also receive funding from the Research, Testing and Development (R,T&D) business unit for a two year renewable photovoltaic penetration study valued at R2.5 million ($227,00).
Choeu highlighted Eskom’s partnership with CRSES, which completed its tenth academic year in 2016.
“Over the period of its tenth academic year, the centre was involved in the graduation of 3 doctoral, 22 masters and a number of postgraduate diploma students. The centre has also been very successful in attracting additional funding from industry and government,” said Choeu.
In 2012 EPPEI identified Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) and Wind Energy as the two focal areas for Eskom in the field of renewable energy and, subsequently, Solar Photovoltaics (PV) was added.
“Stellenbosch University has established itself as one of the leading universities in CSP research, in the world, and has developed a number of unique experimental facilities and technology. Eskom is proud to have made its substantial contribution to this journey,” Choeu said.
He stated that Eskom has a R30.8 million ($2 million) multi-year collaborative projects with CSIR, currently in progress, of which Eskom’s contribution is R23.4 million ($1.7 million).
Choeu said they also have another R17.5 million ($13 million) in collaborative projects actively under consideration, currently.
“As Eskom, we have a deeply-rooted appreciation of academic independence. We encourage this by investing, in science research, without any contingent conditions that have a potential to remotely impede this canonised independence,” Choeu concluded.