South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma has officially opened Unit 6 of the Medupi Power Station, a move that marks a momentous milestone for Eskom and Africa’s second largest economy. This is the first super-critical power plant unit to be successfully built and operated in the new democratic dispensation.
The Medupi Power Station Project is a green-fields coal-fired power plant comprising of six units rated in total at 4 764MW installed capacity. Construction activities commenced in May 2007, the power station is planned to be fully installed by 2019. Once completed, the power station will be the fourth largest coal-fired plant and the largest dry-cooled power station in the world. The planned operational life of the power station is 50 years.
Unit 6 was first synchronised to the national grid on 2 March this year and has been producing electricity to the national grid intermittently whilst undergoing regular optimisation tests. During this period Unit 6 has been able to alleviate pressure on the national electricity system, helping to either avoid load shedding altogether or minimising its severity. The unit’s commercial operation has been achieved, well within the normally stipulated period of six months after first synchronisation.
Eskom’s Acting Chief Executive Brian Molefe said the commercial operation of Unit 6 of the Medupi power station is a critical milestone in their effort to build new generating capacity to meet South Africa’s rising electricity demand.
He said their capacity expansion programme, which is the largest in our history, will increase our generation capacity by 17 384MW, transmission lines by 9 756km and substation capacity by 42 470MVA once completed in the next five years.
“Since inception in 2005, the capacity expansion programme so far added 6 237MW of generation capacity, 5 816km of transmission lines and 29 655MVA of substation capacity. This will enable us to provide security of electricity supply to South African homes and businesses, powering economic expansion and extending electricity to millions of households who have previously relied on other fuel sources for domestic cooking and heating,” he said.
Eskom’s Acting Group Executive for Group Capital, Abram Masango added that this mammoth task was accomplished due to the dedicated efforts of all concerned and the calibre of our engineers who ensured technical compliance.
“We’ve learned a lot of lessons as we progressed, and we’ve trained people and built up skills that will be useful not only for the remainder of the build project, but also for the South African industry.”
Eskom’s overall capacity expansion programme employs more than 40 000 people and has created multi-billion rand supply opportunities for local suppliers ranging from steel, construction, security, laundry, accommodation and catering.