Pretoria — Eskom has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) that will see the two entities working together on the formation of alternative insulating fluids for transformers.
The agreement was signed on Thursday.
For the past year Eskom has been researching the possibility of using alternative insulating fluids such as Esters, also known as vegetable oil, in its transformers.
Eskom is now in a position to liaise with the local industry with respect to alternative insulating fluids for transformer applications.
"The two bodies have partnered to establish a sustainable value chain that may involve farming of the seed crops, processing the oil and distributing it to transformer manufacturers. Engineering research will also be conducted to answer all related technical questions," said the power utility.
The IDC said it was attracted to the technology as there is the potential of expanding the local oilseed value chain.
"What attracted us to this technology is the potential of expanding the local oilseed value chain upstream through additional farming and agro-processing activities.
"By producing this high value, renewably sustainable and environmentally friendly input, it will ensure a 'greener' electricity distribution network, whilst also facilitating new industry development opportunities," said the IDC's Head of New Industries Christo Fourie.
He said this has the potential of displacing four million litres of imported mineral oil at an annual cost of approximately R88 million while creating much-needed jobs.
The initiative also supports government's biofuels strategy while taking into account food security.
The memorandum was signed at an Eskom workshop which was held to discuss the modalities of adopting natural esters as the preferred insulating fluid for transformers.
The workshop was attended by 300 engineers and scientists from Eskom, municipalities, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), oil suppliers and the IDC.
Eight technical papers were presented by local and international experts.