Few years before all Eskom’s Medupi units come online

2014-10-02 12:09

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Eskom may take years to start all six units at its Medupi power plant, according to a National Planning Commission member.

The utility expects to connect the first of six units at its coal-fired 4 764-megawatt Medupi facility by the end of this year.

“According to senior Eskom sources, the second unit is scheduled to come online two-and-a-half years after the first and then the subsequent units at six-month intervals,” Anton Eberhard, a planning commission member and professor at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business, said today.

“Due to political pressure to show progress, they diverted resources away from the remaining units to focus on getting the first commissioned.”

South Africa had load shedding this year as outages at Eskom’s aging plants curbed supplies. The utility is racing to build new facilities to avoid a repeat of 2008 cuts that forced mines and factories to halt production for five days.

Eskom spokesperson Tony Stott said he wasn’t immediately able to comment.

Labour strikes and contractor errors pushed Medupi’s plans back and Eskom last month said the plant was 73% done. The first unit was supposed to be commissioned in 2012, Eskom said on its website.

“I am aware that Medupi has had challenges and I’ve been told that there is a long way to go before the whole power station is completed,” Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown said in September.

“My department will follow the progress keenly and I expect that Eskom would have learnt invaluable lessons in tackling future mega projects.”

Eskom plans to add 17 gigawatts of capacity by 2019, including Medupi, the 4 800-megawatt Kusile coal-powered station and the 1 332-megawatt Ingula pumped-storage power project.

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