Old Eskom power stations revived

Johannesburg - Eskom has spent R20.5bn on recommissioning three old power stations that have been out of service for more than 20 years.

The total budget of returning these three – Camden, Komati and Grootvlei – to service was estimated at R12bn in 2003. The three power stations together can produce 3 800MW of electricity.

Eskom spokesperson Hilary Joffe said the project had presented various major challenges, including the procurement of components last manufactured in the 1960s.

The project had however been successful, she said, and was already delivering electricity to a network struggling to meet demand.

Joffe said that the generating capacity of the three together – Camden with 1 520MW, Grootvlei with 1 200MW and Komati with 1 000MW – would equal that of a new power station.

But the cost of the recommissioning is almost R100bn less than that of a new power station – and the electricity will be available sooner.

Joffe said the programme would probably be completed by the end of 2012.

Eskom officially opened Camden last year and work on Komati and Grootvlei is well under way.

The Komati station, which is already generating just over 300MW of electricity, will produce an additional 300MW by year-end.

Neels Roodt, Komati’s project manager, said that the power station had a number of unique challenges that the other two, Grootvlei and Camden, did not have.

Komati had nine units, but they were not identical. Four different types needed to be redone, resulting in delays.

Three of Komati’s units were already generating electricity, he said, and the fourth was currently being recommissioned.

It was expected that another two would be completed this year and the last three in 2012 .

Chris Nani, who manages Komati – which is situated near Bethal in Mpumalanga – said the new generating capacity that these old power stations would add would be of cardinal importance over the next two years until Medupi and Kusile were completed.

Nani said Komati was already exceeding all expectations. The three units already completed were delivering electricity to the network at an availability of more than 95%.

Nani said more than 2 900 people were working permanently on the project to return the power station to full operation.

During peak times there were – including contractors – some 3 500 people. Many of these came from the surrounding area and former workers had also returned to help Eskom with the challenges of old technology.

Joffe said Eskom’s efforts to re-open the old stations was unparalleled anywhere in the world. No-one else could be as successful in reopening old power stations that had been shut down for so long, he believed.

Eskom newest power station, Medupi, which is being built in Lephalale, will be ready only in 2016 and is expected to cost R125bn. It will produce 4 800MW.

- Sake24

For business news in Afrikaans, go to Sake24.com.

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