Eskom says that Unit 4 of the Kusile Power Station Project has been connected to the national grid, which will contribute an additional 800MW to the country’s power system once the unit is fully optimised, following a series of tests and other commissioning activities.
The unit was first connected on 23 December, and will supply electricity intermittently during the testing and optimisation phase over the next six months, before being handed over to the Generation division to officially be part of the commercial fleet.
“This will further assist Eskom as it works tirelessly to address the supply capacity challenges,” the power utility said.
Since synchronization, the unit has performed to expectation, intermittently generating up to 330MW, Eskom said. “The unit post-synchronization commissioning activities, are well in progress, experiencing normal challenges as expected during this phase.”
Construction and commissioning activities on the remaining Kusile Units 5 and 6 continue to progress according to plan.
At completion, the station will consist of six units, and will produce a maximum 4,800MW. Situated near eMalahleni in Mpumalanga, Kusile is South Africa’s largest construction project and will be the world’s fourth-largest coal plant.
Eskom said it is fitting wet flue gas desulphurisation (WFGD) to the Kusile plant as an atmospheric emission abatement technology, in line with current international practice, to ensure compliance with air quality standards, making it more environmentally friendly.
“Kusile is the first power station in South Africa and Africa to use WFGD technology. WFGD is the state-of-the-art technology used to remove oxides of sulphur (SOx), for example, sulphur dioxide (SO2), in the emissions of power plants that burn coal or oil,” it said.
Construction on the Kusile originally started around 13 years ago, and it was set to be completed by 2014. However, corrupt contracts and design defects have delayed the project and nearly doubled its initial expected cost from R81 billion, to R161.4 billion.
Eskom now only anticipates Kusile will be completed by 2023.