12 Jun 2012
Medupi, the world’s fourth largest coal-fired power station went through a pressure test on the boiler of the first unit last week.
The boiler is at the heart of the power plant, and the hydrostatic pressure test is an essential step in the commissioning of each unit once construction of the boiler has been completed.
Construction at Medupi near Lephalale in Limpopo started in 2007 and this milestone in the construction of the power station will see Medupi generate its first power to the national grid next year.
Medupi which means “rain that soaks parched lands, giving economic relief” is the first new power station South Africa has built in more than two decades.
Once it is complete, at a cost of R91 billion, it will be the world’s fourth largest coal-fired power station, with a total installed capacity of 4 800 MW.
The first unit (Unit 6) is expected be the first South African power station to incorporate super-critical technology, enabling it to operate with greater efficiency than the older generation of coal-fired power stations and reducing its adverse impact on the environment.
It will also be the world’s largest dry-cooled power station, minimising its use of scarce water resources.
Medupi will boost Eskom’s capacity by approximately 12 percent, helping it to keep the lights on for all South Africans in the decades to come, says Eskom.
Speaking at the test ceremony, President Jacob Zuma expressed delight at the infrastructure project progress and its impact on the community.
Currently, there are more than 17 000 workers on site at Medupi, of which 95 percent are South African and 47 percent are from the Lephalale area.
“Electricity sounds like a simple basic service, but it is actually the lifeblood of the economy,” said Zuma.
He noted that the Integrated Resource Plan of government forecasts that energy demand will be double the current levels by 2030, hence the need to increase the power generation capacity.
Eskom is spending R340 billion on the projects with Kusile expected to cost R121 billion.
It is more than 17 percent complete and R39 billion has already been spent on this project with an estimated 25 percent impact on Delmas town's GDP.
Ingula in Ladysmith is expected to cost R23 billion and is more than 42 percent complete with R11 billion rand having been spent and is expected to have a 7 percent impact on Ladysmith's local GDP.
“These new power stations will provide the electricity capacity needed to grow the economy, attract investment and create jobs,” said Zuma.
Medupi, Kusile and Ingula will create approximately 40 000 job opportunities, at 35 500 direct jobs during construction and operation and about 4 500 indirect jobs supporting the programme.
Medupi will be able to generate enough electricity to power almost the whole of Gauteng while Lephalale’s GDP is expected to increase by approximately 95 percent per year as a result of the construction activities.
Eskom has invested R2.3 billion rand in infrastructure programmes within the Lephalale region, which includes the construction of houses and upgrading of roads.
Homes and social infrastructure are being developed to serve the thousands of contractors working on site.
Eskom has already successfully returned-to-service the Camden Power Station in Mpumalanga, which was previously mothballed and is in the process of returning Grootvlei and Komati Power Stations both in Mpumalanga, to full operating capacity.
In total, by 2018, the capital expansion programme would have contributed more than 17 000 megawatts of electricity and 4 700 km of transmission network.
Zuma urged South Africans to save electricity as Eskom cannot keep the lights on alone. – Denise Mhlanga
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