Eskom build programme: Medupi & Kusile

South Africa is in the midst of a serious power crisis, as we are all very much aware of. Eskom is unable to generate enough electricity to power the entire country and because of these constraints, the utility has found themselves in a financial crisis.
However, it is not only Eskom that is in trouble. The power crisis has had a tremendous effect on the economy as a whole and crippled South Africa significantly.
The biggest issue with Eskom is that they are severely behind schedule with the build and implementation of their new build programme, which was intended to supply South Africa with new power plants by 2014.
Naturally, this didn’t happen. But just how far behind schedule are these power plants and when can we expect to see them finally up and running?
The two main power plants currently under construction are Medupi and Kusile. Here is a breakdown of both:
– Medupi is a coal-powered power plant in Lephalale in Limpopo.
– It is the 4th of its kind built in South Africa by Eskom in the last 20 years.
– When complete, it will also be the 4th largest coal powered power plant in the Southern Hemisphere and the biggest dry-cooled power station in the world.
– Medupi has an expected operational life of 50 years.
**Technical aspects**
– The Medupi power plant comprises of 6 units, each with a capacity of approximately 800MW.
– The total combined capacity of all six Medupi units is an estimated 4800MW
While this plant will surely aid South Africa during the current power crisis, it doesn’t look as though it will be operational anytime soon.
Medupi was first expected to be completed by the end of 2014. This gave Eskom a 7 year deadline, as construction on the plant started in 2007.
However, Medupi has failed to reach any of its deadlines and is seriously behind schedule.
Unit 6, the unit that was first to be synchronized, was originally supposed to come on line at the end of 2013, with the other units following in 6 month intervals. However, the date for synchronization has been extended multiple times.
Last year, a date was set for 24 December and Eskom even started a 100 day countdown. But alas, Medupi did not come online on Christmas Eve.
The deadline was then extended to 15 January and then to 15 February. Of course, both of these dates have passed and
Eskom has now said that Unit 6 will synchronize at the end of March.
The entire Medupi power plant is expected to be completed by 2019 or 2020.
– The Kusile power plant is also a coal-fired power plant in the Nkangala District of Mpumalanga.
– Eskom has said that Kusile is the most advanced power plant project they have taken on to date.
– Kusile will be the first power plant in South Africa to have Flue Gas Desulphurization (FGD) installed in its workings.
– FGD is a method by which sulphur oxides are removed from the exhaust flue gasses.
**Technical aspects**
– Kusile, like Medupi, also comprises of 6 units.
– These six units have an estimated capacity of 800MW each.
– The combined capacity of all the units at Kusile is approximately 4800MW.
Kusile’s first unit was supposed to go into commercial operation in 2014, with the following units to be commissioned in 8 month intervals. Kusile’s last unit was intended to be operational by 2018.
However, recently, the deadline for the implementation of the first unit was pushed back by a whole year, to the end of 2016. Then, a few weeks ago, Eskom announced that the deadline was pushed back even further to mid 2017.
Kusile, along with Medupi are now only expected to be finished by 2020, making them 5 years behind schedule.
It is also highly possible that the deadlines for both power plants will be pushed back even further as Eskom’s financial trouble continue to climb. Thus, we are not able to give an accurate date as to when these two power plants will finally be able to provide South Africa with the power it so desperately needs.
Source: Eskom
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