Eskom’s Medupi project reaches commercial operation status

Technical compliance to statutory, safety and legal requirements have all been met.
Eskom's Medupi power station. Image: Supplied

Eskom has finally attained commercial operation status on Unit 1, the last of six generation units of the Medupi Power Station Project in Lephalale, and it has thus been handed over to the Generation division.

Eskom achieved this status on Saturday, marking the completion of all building activities on the 4 764MW project which began in May 2007.

“Unit 1 commercial operation … signifies the completion of construction for Medupi Power Station,” said Bheki Nxumalo, group executive for Eskom’s group capital division. The utility says the commercial operation status means that technical compliance to statutory, safety and legal requirements have all been met.

While the capital cost of the project is R122 billion so far, Eskom expects to spend under R135 billion in total on completion of balance of plant.

The construction of both Medupi and the Kusile Power Station has run over budget and over schedule, with numerous design and technical faults and underperformance.

Read: Medupi and Kusile design modifications: Progress and problems

“The unit was officially declared commercial after the completion of the unit optimisation, control demonstration, as well as the 72-hour and the 30-day reliability run, which have put all performance guarantees to effect,” the statement said.

Medupi uses direct dry-cooling systems due to the water scarcity in the Lephalale area and is the fourth largest coal-fired plant and the largest dry-cooled power station in the world. It has a planned operational life of 50 years.

The utility says that Unit 1 was first synchronised to the national grid on August 27, 2019 and reached the full load of 794MW in December 5 that year. Unit 1 contributed intermittent power to the country’s electricity supply during the testing and optimisation phase.

The first unit, Unit 6, attained commercial operation status on August 23, 2015, and over the succeeding six-year period, four other units were built and brought to commercial status providing electricity to the national grid.

Nxumalo said: “What remains for the Medupi project is the last part of implementing the agreed technical solutions related to the boiler design defects on the balance of plant. Once these repairs are completed during the next 24 months, Medupi will reliably deliver power to the national grid at full capacity, helping increase energy security for the country”.

During the peak of the construction, Eskom says its Medupi project directly employed more than 18 000 people on building activities, with an addition of 2 000 supporting employees employed on site. Eskom says it has been working with the nearby communities in the Limpopo province, since the construction of the project. More than 4 600 artisans, technicians, engineers and managers were formally trained by their contractors, exceeding their local skills development target of 3 071.

Palesa Mofokeng is a Moneyweb intern.


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Thank goodness, at last. Amazing what can be achieved when corruption is pushed aside and proper project management is put in place.

I’ve noticed no sing and dance by the CEO. Head down eyes on the ball. I like that. Maybe because he is recovering from Covid. I wish him a speedy recovery.

Thanks Andre, none of those corrupt clowns could have done it.

Now lets see how long it lasts till the first trade unionist chucks a spanner in the machine.

Wow, and China built probably 50 in the same time and on budget.

Slow clap

Brilliant and very exciting news for South Africa. Our power woes are hopefully almost behind us!

A quarter trillion rands debt, semi-performative over a decade later. What a beacon this power station serves as a representation SA’s pathetic government!

What’s worse, still. This is the better of the 2 “new builds”. The Kusile failures are likely to dwarf those of Medupi. (If we all live that long.)

Same old storey; a day late (corruption, BEE and Dunning Kruger) and a dollar short (stolen by ANC tenderpreneurs). Little to praise.

End of comments.



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