Eskom’s 4764MW Medupi Coal Fired Power Station Achieves Commercial Operation

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  • Eskom has announced that the final unit, unit 1, of six generation units of the Medupi Power Station Project in Lephalale has attained commercial operation status and was thus handed over to the Generation division.
  • This milestone marks the completion of all building activities on the 4 764MW project, which commenced in May 2007.
  • The capital cost of the project is R122 billion so far, and Eskom expects to spend in total under R135 billion on completion of balance of plant.
  • The plant has been plagued by cost overruns, trade union strikes, design faults, corruption and mismanagement since inception. Read more
  • The original planned cost of plant was calculated at R80 billion in 2007 and plant commissioning was set for 2011. 
  • The planned operational life of the station is 50 years.

“Unit 1 commercial operation is a historic milestone as it signifies the completion of construction for Medupi Power Station,” said Bheki Nxumalo, Group Executive for Eskom’s Group Capital Division. “This is an investment that will serve generations of the people of South Africa and power the economy for at least the next half-century.”

Related news: World Bank called out for funding Medupi coal fired power station in South Africa 

It was on 23 August 2015 when the first unit, Unit 6, attained commercial operation status. Over the following six years four other units were built and brought to commercial status, providing electricity to the national grid.

The Medupi Power Station 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. The power plant incorporates super critical technology, which is able to operate at higher temperatures than Eskom’s earlier generation of boilers and turbines. Importantly, the technology enables the power plant to operate with greater efficiency, resulting in better use of natural resources such as water and coal, and will have improved environmental performance.

Related news: Coal conveyor belt at Medupi snaps again 

At its peak during construction, the Medupi project directly employed more than 18 000 people on building activities while another 2 000 supporting employees were employed on site. The capital cost of the project is R122 billion so far, and Eskom expects to spend in total under R135 billion on completion of balance of plant.

Related news: South African tax payer to foot the bill for latest Eskom bailout – R58 billion

“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,” said Bheki Nxumalo.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal


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