No outages because of Medupi: Eskom

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11 July 2013

There will be no load-shedding as a result of delays in the completion of South Africa’s new Medupi coal-fired power plant, says state company Eskom.

“We have not had any load-shedding. From our perspective, there’s no direct relation between the Medupi delays and any load-shedding,” Eskom CEO Brian Dames said during a presentation of the company’s annual results in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

The company had been able to keep the lights on, despite it being a tough year, Dames said, with Eskom for the first time conducting maintenance work at its plants over the winter period.

Eskom announced on Monday that the first unit of the Medupi station was unlikely to deliver first power by the December 2013 delivery date, but was only likely to do so in the second half of 2014, due to technical as well as labour issues.

Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba, also speaking at Wednesday’s briefing, said he was “extremely disturbed” by further delays to the completion of Medupi, and was bringing in independent consultants to get the state company’s build programme running efficiently.

The delay, he said, “puts pressure” on South Africa’s already constrained electricity supply.

Medupi, one of the two large coal-fired stations that Eskom is building, is a 4 764 MW coal-fired power station located near Lephalale. It will the first South African power station to have “super-critical” technology, and one of the world’s largest dry cooled stations, so it will much more efficient than older coal-fired stations.

The other station, Kusile, is located in Mpumalanga province and will have the same technology but with the addition of flue-gas desulphurisation, a state-of-the art technology used to remove oxides of sulphur from the exhaust flue gases in power plants that burn coal or oil.

Eskom said on Wednesday that the company had made significant progress on its new build programme in 2012-13, with a record R60-billion invested in infrastructure.

Eskom also made progress in the introduction of renewable energy to South Africa’s grid, having contracted a total of 1 135 MW from independent power producers by the end of March 2013.

The company had also continued develop skills in the country, having trained 2 144 engineers, 835 technicians and 2 847 artisans over the course of the financial year.

Dames said that Eskom was facing a R225-billion shortfall after receiving an 8% annual tariff increase over a five-year period from the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa). The compnay had applied for a 16% tariff hike.

R34-billion of the R225-billion shortfall would be in the first two years, the rest over the other three years, Dames said, adding that Eskom had no intention to approach the regulator for the first two years.

“We are comfortable that we have a clear game plan in place for the first two years. And a lot of work will have to be done. We have no intention to go to the regulator and have a tariff discussion within the next two years,” he said.

SAnews.gov.za and SAinfo reporter