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.
“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.