Eskom Wants to Bypass Toxic Gas Filter at Kusile to Get 2400MW Back Online

On the 23rd of October 2022, a section of the Kusile Unit 1 flue gas duct (the equivalent of a chimney in a household) exiting the sulphur dioxide absorber failed on the horizontal rubber expansion joint as well as the compensator (a bend to direct flue gas up the chimney and allow for thermal expansion of the chimney). The damage happened whilst the unit was on forced shutdown for Flue Gas De-sulphuration recirculating pump repairs.

Related news: Horrific Impacts That Eskom’s Air Pollution Has on People’s Health and Lives on a Daily Basis

Eskom’s coal fired power stations have been plagued by sabotage, theft, vandalism and corruption. Read more 

Kusile Power Station is designed to consist of six 800 megawatt coal-fired generating units for a total generating capacity of 4,800 megawatts. Image credit: Harshic Budhia

As a result of the failure to act on its SO2 emissions over many decades, Eskom has become the largest power sector emitter of SO2 in the world.  By temporarily bypassing the pollution abatement unit, Eskom will increase emissions of SO2 eightfold, to 80 000 tonnes at Kusile alone, said Lauri Myllivirta, lead analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.

Related news: Kusile and Medupi coal power plants riddled with design flaws

But by bypassing the duct, Eskom could return the units to operation a year earlier than planned. That would be 2400MW of much needed generation capacity.

In March 2022, a South Africa court ruled that clean air is a constitutional right. It would be interesting to see how South Africa’s environment minister, Barbera Creecy, responds to Eskom’s request.

Related news: R30 billion needed to complete Kusile and Medupi power stations

Related news: AfDB Releases Completion Report on South Africa’s 4764MW Medupi Coal Fired Power Station: Project Will Not Show a Financial Benefit Over its Lifetime

Related news: Ramaphosa misses the boat spectacularly in his sweeping energy reforms

Author: Bryan Groenendaal 

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