Eskom has today announced that Unit 3 of the Kusile Power Station has achieved commercial operation status, bringing the total number of active generation units at the power station to three.
While this is good news for South Africans living in constant fear that loadshedding will be declared at any moment, it has taken Eskom 13 years to reach the half way point in bringing this project online.
The utility says that the other three remaining units are still being constructed, tested and optimised but gave no indication of when that process will be complete.
To give Eskom a slice of credit, testing Unit 3 took two years to complete. While Unit 3 was synchronised to the grid, in order to achieve commercial operation status, the generation unit had to meet technical, safety and legal compliance guidelines.
“Bringing this unit to commercial operation is a major milestone for Eskom and the employees involved in the project, who are working hard to ensure Eskom fulfils its promise of bringing stability to the power system,” Eskom’s group executive for Capital Projects, Bheki Nxumalo said in a statement.
Unit 3 at Kusile was meant to go achieve commercial operation status in August 2020. While we’re not keen on giving Eskom much leeway, given the absolute mess that last year was, the fact that this deadline was moved to March is understandable.
That having been said, this project is costing Eskom billions with reports from 2019 alleging the cost of construction at Medupi and Kusile amount to R451 billion.
The completion of Unit 3 also marks the contractual handover from the principal contractors under the Group Capital Build project unit within Eskom to the Generation division.
According Eskom, Kusile is the first power station in South Africa to use wet flue gas desulphurisation technology. This technology removes oxides of Sulphur from exhaust flue gas in coal-fuelled power plants.
Each unit at Kusile is expected to generate 800MW of capacity meaning overall the power station will ultimately contribute 4 800MW to the national grid. At present Kusile provides 2 400MW of capacity to the grid.
Eskom’s unplanned and planned outages sat at 12 690MW and 6 052MW respectively during the last bought of loadshedding. In the greater scheme of things then, 800MW of extra capacity won’t end loadshedding, but every bit helps we suppose.
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