The first unit of the Medupi power station is finally adding electricity to the South African power grid, but there is a long wait ahead before the next unit is ready to follow.
On 2 March 2015 unit 6 at Medupi started producing power for the first time, marking the end to years of delays hindering the switch-on.
“Within the next three months, South Africa will see Medupi unit six’s full potential of 794MW being fed into the South African national grid,” Eskom chief executive Tshediso Matona said.
According to Solidarity, the next unit planned for synchronisation at Medupi – unit 5 – is only expected to start up in March 2017.
In the 6 months following that date, the rest of the units are expected to be lit up, Solidarity said.
According to Johan Kruger, Solidarity deputy general secretary, electricity consumers should keep in mind that, amid the negativity surrounding load shedding, Eskom employees are constantly doing their best to keep the lights on.
“We can attest to the fact that hundreds of loyal employees, many of them our members, have worked their fingers to the bone to complete the synchronisation of Medupi’s Unit 6.”
“Although the country will be burdened with load shedding for a long time to come, we will at least be able to console ourselves with the fact that there actually are people working day and night to try to meet the country’s electricity needs,” Kruger said.
Medupi’s total output of 4764MW is expected to be synchronised to the grid by 2019.
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.
The much-delayed Kusile power station was supposed to come online in 2014, but its 6 x 800MW units are now expected to come online in 2020.
Meanwhile, EWN has reported that a renewable energy power plant in the Northern Cape has also gone online this week – producing 100MW of energy.
This is the equivalent of powering 80,000 households, the news organisation said.
Despite the progress, Eskom has warned that the grid remains under severe pressure. The risk of load shedding during the week remains medium-to-high, with particular strain expected in the evenings and heading into the weekend.