Medupi start delayed once again

The start-date for the first unit of Medupi Power Station has been delayed yet again, energy expert Chris Yelland has reported, as South Africa heads into another week likely filled with rolling blackouts.

According to Yelland, Roman Crookes, Eskom’s project manager at Medupi Power Station, advised yesterday that the deadline for synchronisation of the first unit at Medupi Power station has been extended by a further six weeks, from mid February 2015 to end March 2015.

“This follows the recent disclosure by Eskom that the commercial operation date for the first unit at Eskom’s Kusile power station has been delayed by a year from mid 2016 to mid 2017,” he said.

Medupi, which started construction in 2007, was first set to come online in mid-2013, after a number of technical, labour and manufacturing issues hampered progress.

All 6 x 800 MW units at each power station were initially supposed to be generating commercial power into the grid at the end 2013 and 2014, respectively.

Medupi and Kusile are now only expected to be fully on stream delivering commercial power into the grid by 2019 and 2020 respectively.

Earlier in January, Yelland highlighted a number of new issues which had turned up at Medupi, which could potentially jeapordise effective operation.

Issues revolved around the lack of thorough testing of the station’s boiler, which, if not completed by the book, could lead to further problems down the line.

Week of blackouts

Eskom, meanwhile, announced on Monday (9 February) that its systems were still under pressure, and that there was a 50/50 chance load shedding would be implemented.

“There’s 50% probability of load shedding today. Any unexpected changes on an already constrained power system could result in load shedding,” the group said.

Eskom spent most of last week in stage two load shedding after one of Koeberg’s 900MW units was taken out of service because of a technical fault.

Stage one allows for up to 1000MW of the national load to be cut, stage two for up to 2000MW, and stage three for up to 4000MW.

“The system will continue to be under severe pressure over the coming week, so the risk of load shedding remains high,” Eskom said.

“There is a shortage of generation capacity due to units that are currently out of service due to planned and unplanned maintenance.”

The focus was on returning the units that were on unplanned maintenance back on line in order to increase available capacity.

“Koeberg power station’s Unit 1 will be shut down from Monday for a scheduled refuelling, inspection and maintenance outage. The unit is expected to return back to service at the end of May,” Eskom said.

“The scheduled shutdown of Koeberg Unit 1 is part of Eskom’s overall maintenance programme for its fleet of power stations.”

The company called on all South Africans to continue using electricity sparingly in order to limit the severity of power cuts.

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Medupi start delayed once again