Wednesday, 31 March 2021 13:04

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Eskom has announced that Unit 3 of the Kusile Power Station has achieved commercial operation status.

This brings to three the number of generation units that have achieved commercial status at the project, generating a maximum 2 400MW to support the South African power grid.

In a statement on Wednesday, Eskom said bringing the 800MW unit to commercial status means construction activity has come to an end on half the eMalahleni, Mpumalanga project.

The achievement of this milestone follows two years of rigorous testing and optimisation since the unit was first synchronised into the national grid in April 2019.

This also milestone marks the contractual handover of the unit from the principal contractors under the Group Capital Build project unit to the Generation division.

"Bringing this unit to commercial operation is a major milestone for Eskom and the employees involved in the project, who are working hard to ensure Eskom fulfils its promise of bringing stability to the power system," said Bheki Nxumalo, Eskom’s Group Executive for Capital Projects.

The construction, testing and optimisation activities on the remaining three units, some of which are currently providing intermittent power to support the grid, are progressing well.

Commercial Operation status is conferred on generation units that have met the requirements for full technical, statutory, safety and legal compliance.

Eskom said it is proud of its team at Kusile who have delivered this third unit with "extreme dedication, and working under challenging conditions during periods of loadshedding and the COVID-19 restrictions".

It said the team has worked hard for long hours together with execution partners to ensure that testing activities are done thoroughly and successfully.

Kusile is the first power station in South Africa and Africa to use wet flue gas desulphurisation (WFGD) technology.

WFGD is the current state-of-the-art technology used to remove oxides of sulphur from the exhaust flue gas in power plants that burn coal or oil.

"Eskom is fitting WFGD to the Kusile plant as an atmospheric emission abatement technology, in line with current international practice, to ensure compliance with air quality standards and its commitments to some of the funders of the project," said the state utility.

Meanwhile South African consumers can expect a double-blow from the energy sector next week as petrol price and electricity tariff increases take effect.

The first blow will come from Eskom which has announced that will increase electricity tariffs by 15.63% on 1 April 2021.

This follows the power utility and the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) reaching an agreement on Eskom’s allowable revenue for the 2021/2022 financial year.

The settlement was confirmed in a court order handed down by Justice Joseph Raulinga on 15 February.