Long wait for Medupi power
IT WILL be another five years before Medupi power station is fully online.
Yesterday, Eskom spokesman Andrew Etzinger said the first unit at Medupi would be synchronised by the end of the year, then the unit would provide full output by April and be ready for commercial operation in about May.
“The total station (all six units) will be in commercial operation by 2019,” said Etzinger.
He was commenting after the government issued a briefing statement from the economic sectors, employment and infrastructure development cluster yesterday.
“The Medupi power station unit 6 synchronisation is on track for the end of December 2014, with grid connection and full operation possible only around June 2015,” it said.
Eskom has previously said that Medupi’s unit 6 – the first unit due to be finished at the new power station – would be synchronised to the grid on December 24.
The synchronisation is not the same as being commissioned to generate power.
Eskom has avoided providing dates for the delivery of the rest of the Medupi units.
However, yesterday’s cluster briefing gave a hint in the briefing on water supply.
“Projects to improve water supply within the Waterberg area are reaching critical milestones. The Mokolo and Crocodile River Water Augmentation Project (Phase 1) is at construction phase. “De-bottlenecking to improving operational efficiency by linking existing and new pipes has been achieved, thus increasing delivery by an additional 57 percent of water.
“This will enable Eskom to commission four of its Medupi units and meet the forecasted high-water-demand scenarios until December 2015,” said the cluster briefing.
Medupi is years behind schedule, and the delays have not helped the strain on the grid.
In late 2011, Eskom had expected that Medupi’s first unit would have been commissioned during 2012, with the remaining five units added at a rate of one every eight months until the entire power station was generating power by next year.
BARELY two weeks after plunging the country into darkness following the collapse of a coal storage silo at the Majuba power station in Mpumalanga, power utility Eskom warned yesterday of a renewed risk of load shedding, saying the power system was severely constrained due to “unforeseen technical problems” at power stations.
Load shedding essentially means one area might be supplied with power and the other cut off in order to save the grid from total collapse.
Eskom’s latest warning coincided with speculation that the remaining coal storage silo at Majuba may have suffered a crack. Eskom denied this.
“The power system is severely constrained today due to unforeseen technical problems at power stations. Should we experience further technical problems, we may need to implement load shedding,” the power utility said.
Eskom called on consumers to urgently conserve power.
Spokesman Andrew Etzinger said the technical problems comprised of a combination of poor quality coal delivered to certain power stations and the effect of Majuba not being back to full production following the collapse of the silo.
He said some of the coal received “has higher ash content and hampers the power stations’ ability to operate”.
Boiler-tube leaks at some power stations also contributed to the latest issues.
“The lack of maintenance and refurbishment at our power stations because of the need to generate power has led to poor generation capacity,” Etzinger said.
Eskom declined to comment on what it called rumours of a crack in one of the remaining coal storage silos at its Majuba power station.
“The two remaining coal silos were emptied after the incident and prepared for a thorough examination,” Etzinger said, adding that once that examination was concluded Eskom would announce the results.
Inspections were being conducted at all of Eskom silos around the country, he said. –