Eskom announced that Unit 3 of its Kusile power plant has achieved commercial operating status – signaling that half of the project’s operational capacity is now online.
The plant now generates a maximum of 2,400 MW to support South Africa’s power grid, he said.
“Changing the 800 MW unit to commercial status means that construction activity has ended on half of the project,” Eskom said.
“This milestone follows two years of rigorous testing and optimization since the unit was first synchronized with the national grid in April 2019.”
It also marks the contractual transfer of the main contractors unit under the group’s capital construction project unit to the production division, the electric utility said.
“Bringing this unit into commercial operation is a major milestone for Eskom and the employees involved in the project, who are working hard to ensure that Eskom delivers on its promise to bring stability to the power system,” said Bheki Nxumalo, Eskom Group Manager for Capital Projects.
“Construction, testing and optimization activities for the remaining three units, some of which currently provide intermittent power to support the grid, are progressing well.
The status of commercial exploitation is conferred on production units which have met the requirements of technical, regulatory, safety and legal compliance.
Kusile was announced in 2007, with construction starting in 2008 on an estimated budget of R70 billion. The project was expected to be fully completed within six to ten years, with Eskom saying at one point that all six units would be commercially operational by 2017.
Start dates and completion targets have changed several times over the years, but now, 14 years later, the project is half-finished, with costs well in excess of R200 billion, including interest. capitalized.
Unit 1 of the station was put into commercial operation in 2017, the second unit followed in October 2020. The project suffered several delays due to labor and technical issues, including design flaws and of the supplied components.
Eskom said he is committed to completing the station by 2023.
“Eskom is proud of its Kusile team who delivered this third unit with extreme dedication and who are working in difficult conditions during times of load shedding and Covid-19 restrictions.
“Over the years, the team has worked long hours with the implementing partners to ensure that the testing activities are carried out thoroughly and successfully.”
Kusile is the first power plant in South Africa to use Wet Flue Gas Desulfurization (WFGD) technology. WFGD is the advanced technology currently used to remove sulfur oxides (SOx), for example sulfur dioxide (SO2), from the exhaust gases of power plants that burn coal or oil.
Eskom said it is installing WFGD at the Kusile plant as an air emission reduction technology, in line with current international practice, to ensure compliance with air quality standards and its commitments to certain project funders.
Read: Electricity and water prices expected to rise in Johannesburg