Medupi and Kusile coal power plants are 'badly designed', says Pravin Gordhan

accreditation
Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan. (Yunus Mohamed/Photo24)
Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan. (Yunus Mohamed/Photo24)

Two new coal-fired power plants being built in South Africa, which will be the continent’s largest once completed, are "badly designed and badly constructed", Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said as the country reels under a third day of rolling blackouts.

State-owned power utility Eskom "encapsulates the challenge of where developmental state institutions can go wrong," Gordhan told Parliament on Tuesday.

The utility cut electricity supplies to prevent total collapse of the grid as unscheduled maintenance reduced output.

The Medupi and Kusile plants, which were supposed to add almost 9 600MW to the grid and be fully operational in 2015, are still years away from completion. Their projected costs have more than doubled to R292.5bn.

The return to blackouts compounds worries about Eskom’s precarious position and the threat it poses to the economy. It’s also an embarrassment for the ruling African National Congress just three months ahead of national elections.

Gordhan and Eskom Chairman Jabu Mabuza have approached Enel SpA, Italy’s biggest power utility, to provide technical help to assess the problems, and the company will send engineers to South Africa soon, the minister said in prepared comments sent by email.

Units belonging to at least six power plants including the two new facilities and Arnot, Kriel, Duvha, Matla and Grootvlei weren’t in service today, with Eskom having 27 305MW of capacity available to meet peak demand of 30 033 MW, Gordhan said.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
15.91
+1.1%
Rand - Pound
21.07
+0.9%
Rand - Euro
17.96
+1.2%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.21
+0.4%
Rand - Yen
0.14
+1.3%
Gold
1,778.35
-0.3%
Silver
22.28
-1.2%
Palladium
1,774.50
-2.3%
Platinum
929.90
-0.7%
Brent Crude
69.88
+0.3%
Top 40
64,508
+0.3%
All Share
70,924
+0.2%
Resource 10
67,219
+1.1%
Industrial 25
93,298
-0.5%
Financial 15
14,101
+0.9%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Company Snapshot