Following delays in the construction of Medupi power station, Eskom is taking steps to ensure that its Build Programme remains on track.
Eskom CEO, Brian Dames announced recently that Medupi, under construction in Limpopo province, was unlikely to deliver its first power to the country's grid by the end of this year as planned. The delays have been blamed on disputes with its workforce of 17 000 and "underperformance" by some of the contractors.
Eskom said last that Medupi would start producing power from the middle of next year. Public Enterprises Minister, Malusi Gigaba, has now instructed Eskom to provide him with mitigation strategies to ensure that the supply of electricity will not be interrupted by these delays.
The government had "noted the interventions that the Eskom board and executive management have put in place to ensure that there is no further delay to the delivery of power to the grid", the Department of Public Enterprises said in a statement.
Following the instruction from the minister, the Eskom board has established a sub-committee focusing on the mega projects which includes Medupi, Kusile, Ingula and 765 transmission lines.
“The board sub-committee is to closely monitor progress and to report to the minister regularly of any emerging risks that may require his attention and intervention," said the department.
Medupi is a coal-fired power plant project comprising of six 794 Megawatts (MW) units rated at 4 764 MW.
Additional power stations and major power lines are being built on a massive scale to meet rising electricity demand in South Africa. Es- kom's capacity expansion budget up to 2013 stood at R385 billion and is expected to grow to more than a trillion rand by 2026. Ultimately Eskom will double its capacity to 80 000MW by 2026.
Since the programme started in 2005, an additional 4453.5MW has already been commissioned. The plan is to deliver an additional 16 304MW in power station capacity by 2017.
In 2008 Eskom awarded contracts worth about R31,5 billion for its Kusile Power station, a coal- fired power station being built near Emalahleni in Mpumalanga. This station is expected to be completed in late 2016.
According to Eskom, the station will consist of six units each rated at approximately 800 MW installed capacity giving a total of 4800 MW. This will make it one of the largest coal-fired power stations in the world, once finished. The first unit is planned to go online in December 2014. Kusile will be the first power station in South Africa to have Flue Gas Desulphurisation (FGD) installed. FGD is a state-of-the-art technology, used to remove oxides of sulphur, such as sulphur dioxide, from exhaust flue gases in power plants that burn coal.
The Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme is under construction in Drakensberg mountains, straddling the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal provincial borders. It is a series of underground pump turbines, and tunnels 4.6km long which will link the Bedford Dam and the Bramhoek Dam to deliver 1332MW of hydroelectricity in the next 18 months.
Medupi, Kusile and Ingula are expected to generate a combined 3820MW of electricity by 2015, alleviating the crippling power shortages that South Africa has had to endure since 2008.