Last month, State-owned power utility Eskom said that, over an extended period, funded research work done by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Stellenbosch University had ostensibly benefited research in the renewables space.
“Eskom’s unique role in driving socioeconomic growth requires us to work intimately with academic institutions to develop a path-breaking knowledge base in the science environment,” said Eskom corporate affairs divisional executive Chose Choeu.
He noted that the Eskom Power Plant Engineering Institute (EPPEI) had a renewable-energy specialisation centre as part of the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES), based at Stellenbosch University.
Echoing Eskom’s practical contribution in the renewables space, Choeu pointed out that the CRSES had received R2.6-million last year from the EPPEI, and planned funding for 2017 was projected at about R4-million. It also received funding from Eskom’s Research, Testing and Development business unit for a two-year solar photovoltaic (PV) penetration study valued at R2.5-million.
He highlighted Eskom’s partnership with the CRSES, which completed its tenth academic year in 2016.
“Over this period, the centre was involved in the graduation of three doctoral, 22 master’s 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, the EPPEI identified concentrated solar power (CSP) and wind energy as the two focal areas for Eskom in the field of renewable energy and, subsequently, solar 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 technologies. Eskom is proud to have made its substantial contribution to this journey,” Choeu said.
He stated that Eskom had multiyear collaborative projects under way with the CSIR valued at R30.8-million, of which Eskom’s contribution was R23.4-million. Choeu said, currently, Eskom also had another R17.5-million in collaborative projects actively under consideration.
“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 the remotest potential to impede this canonised independence,” Choeu added.
He emphasised that Eskom was proud of its partnerships with various academic institutions on scientific research and technical work.
“We will continue to forge these lasting partnerships; it is the only far-sighted way to leave a sustainable legacy for the people of South Africa,” Choeu concluded.