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Eskom’s brand new R29.3bn power plant is defective

The two-year old hydropower plant is ‘defective’ and has been limited to operate at lower capacity.

One of South Africa’s newest power plants, designed to supply the grid during peak-use periods, is defective and has been limited to operate at lower capacity.

The deepest power cuts in more than a decade imposed by cash-strapped, state-owned Eskom this month reduced the chances of the continent’s most-industrialized economy posting a stronger recovery from last year’s recession. Eskom is battling to meet demand and is considered one of the country’s biggest risks.

The Ingula pumped-storage project, a hydropower plant, was completed two years ago as part of the government’s program to boost generation capacity, was designed to provide at least 1 332 megawatts during periods of peak demand. However, two of its four units haven’t been operating as they are in a “defects-correction period,” Eskom said in an emailed response to questions.

“A defect has been identified on all four units and registered with the contractor,” which is Voith Siemens Hydro–Voith Fuji Hydro Consortium, the utility said. The units have been “derated” to 245 megawatts when multiple units are running, it said. That means that when all units are operational the plant is running at least 25% below its installed capacity.

The country struggled through 10 days of power outages in March after failures at ageing power plants, defects in new plants and a cyclone that curbed electricity imports from Mozambique slashed supply.

A solution at the Ingula plant “is currently in the development stage,” the utility said.

Ingula generates electricity as water travels from an upper reservoir, through turbines and into a lower reservoir, from where it is pumped back up. The cumulative cost of the project was R29.3 billion ($2 billion) compared with an estimated R21.8 billion in 2010, according to Eskom’s annual reports.

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P
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Typical response from anywhere close to ANC government not taking any responsibility – never Eskom’s fault, always the contractor. Look, it could be the contractor/external engineer, but it is exceedingly difficult for a contractor to take responsibility for a plant, and to get it handed over, to an unconsciously incompentent client with an attitude, who used to have the competency to oversee and successfully take ownership of power stations and operate it successfully. It is interesting to follow the case of CBZ at Medupi and elsewhere, with CBZ having become more outspoken about the problem of poor project management, poor engineering and incompetence on the Eskom side.

Maybe they should change the name back to Braamhoek and get all the pre 1994 people back to run it. Seemed to work quite well in the 1980’s.

The Sterkfontein dam and Drakensberg hydro scheme is the correct reference. Seems they stuffed up Ingula on their own.
Maybe they should have used some of the previous expertise.

Construction on Ingula (Braamhoek) only started in 2005. Maybe you are referring to Drakensberg Pump Storage that was commissioned in 1981.

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