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The last of Eskom’s six-generation units of the Medupi Power Station Project have attained commercial operation status and have been handed over to the generation division.
In a statement on Monday, the power utility said the milestone marks the completion of all building activities on the 4 764 MW project, which commenced in May 2007.
The unit attained commercial operation status and was handed over to the generation division on Saturday.
Eskom said the commercial operation status means technical compliance to statutory, safety, and legal requirements have all been met.
The utility has since applauded all the teams involved and its execution partners for working tirelessly to ensure the unit is handed over for commercial operation as planned by the end of July.
“Unit 1 commercial operation is a historic milestone as it signifies the completion of construction for Medupi power station. 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.” Eskom’s Group Capital Division, Bheki Nxumalo, said.
The unit was officially declared commercial after the completion of the unit optimisation, control demonstration, as well as the 72-hour and 30-day reliability run, which have put all performance guarantees into effect.
“Unit 1 was first synchronised to the national grid on 27 August 2019 and reached the full load of 794 MW on 5 December 2019. During this testing and optimisation phase, unit 1 contributed intermittent power to the country’s electricity supply.”
The entity said the first unit, unit 6, attained commercial operation status on 23 August 2015.
“Over the following six years four other units were built and brought to commercial status, providing electricity to the national grid.”
Medupi 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 “supercritical” technology, which can 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.”
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 hired 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 the balance of the plant.
Working with communities
Since the construction of the project, Eskom has been working with the nearby communities in the Limpopo province.
These include more than 4 600 artisans, technicians, engineers, and managers who were formally trained by Eskom’s contractors, exceeding the entity’s local skills development target of 3 071.
“More significantly, over 60% of the beneficiaries were residents and from Limpopo province.”
In addition, Eskom invested more than R2.9 billion on socio-economic development initiatives to address some of the immediate social needs of local communities.
Since its inception, over R145 million was spent on corporate social investment benefitting over 80 000 people with a special focus on rural development, education, and health infrastructure.
“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 Nxumalo. –