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South African public utility Eskom has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with mining companies Exxaro and Seriti Resources to help decarbonise their operations by deploying solar PV.

Announced today (25 October), the first phase of the agreement will see the construction of off-grid and wheeled solar solutions both at the mines and at Eskom sites. Further projects to decarbonise may include battery storage or wind power, said Eskom in a company statement.

Exxaro and Seriti are the largest coal suppliers to Eskom, providing about 80% of Eskom’s coal supply per year. By establishing renewable sources of energy at their Eskom-linked sites, the companies aim to reduce emissions and save costs. They have committed to starting the projects immediately.

Solar has increasingly been recognised as an effective and cheap way to lower emissions at off-grid mining operations. The mining sector as a whole accounts for 6% of world energy demand.

The proposed projects would reduce Seriti’s emissions by 50% based on coal fired power generation, while Exxaro would reduce emissions from one of its coal mines, Matla, by up to 70%.

[Sean Rai-Roche]

More: Eskom to jointly develop solar projects at South African coal mines

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