Good news for load-shedding — Kusile unit added to the grid

Power utility Eskom has announced that a fourth generating unit at its Kusile coal-fired power station in Mpumalanga has been synchronised to the national electricity grid, helping to ease capacity constraints.

Unit 4 at Kusile was connected to the grid for the first time on 23 December 2021.

Eskom said the unit would supply electricity intermittently during a testing and optimisation phase over the next six months before being handed over to the utility’s generation division for official commissioning into the fleet.

Once fully optimised, it would contribute an additional 800MW of capacity to the grid.

Eskom group executive overseeing new projects, Bheki Nxumalo, thanked the Kusile execution team and its contractors for their commitment to the project.

“This milestone is just what the country needs to power South Africa and its economy,” Nxumalo said.

“This achievement signifies the relentless efforts from the team in ensuring that the power station project is completed without any further delays, which would help strengthen South Africa’s electricity capacity.”

Eskom added that construction and commissioning activities on the remaining two Kusile units continued to progress according to plan.

At completion, the station will consist of six units and produce a maximum of 4,800MW, Eskom stated.

One of the units at the Kusile Power Station near Emalahleni in Mpumalanga.

According to Eskom, Kusile is South Africa’s largest construction project and will be the world’s fourth-largest coal plant once completed.

Construction on the power station 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.

The power station will be the first in the country and on the continent to use wet flue gas desulphurisation (WFGD) to make it more environmentally friendly than older coal power plants.

“WFGD is the state-of-the-art technology used to remove oxides of sulphur (S0x), for example, sulphur dioxide (SO2), in the emissions of power plants that burn coal or oil,” the utility explained.

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Good news for load-shedding — Kusile unit added to the grid