Eskom: Medupi and Kusile stations to be active by 2014

The Medupi power station in Limpopo. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

The Medupi power station in Limpopo. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

South Africa can expect electricity next year from coal-fired power stations Medupi in Limpopo and Kusile in Mpumalanga, Eskom said on Wednesday.

The first of six 794MW units at Medupi would produce electricity in the second half of 2014, the parastatal said in a statement.

Kusile's first unit would produce electricity by December 2014. Kusile has six 800MW units.

The rest of the units in both power stations would go online in eight-month intervals until completion in 2018.

In July, Eskom said Medupi was six months behind schedule and would fail to meet its December 2013 target. The state power utility blamed technical problems for the delay.

"[We] earlier communicated that critical technical challenges need to be resolved in order for unit six to begin producing power.
These technical challenges relate to the welding on the boilers, and the control and instrumentation systems for the units. In addition are the ongoing labour challenges," Eskom said at the time.

Strong measures
This was not the first delay because of welding problems. Previously, faults in factory welds had been discovered.

In May, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said strong measures were taken against Hitachi for its sub-standard work on the Limpopo power station.

Construction at Medupi was delayed due to failures by Hitachi to deliver top quality boilers at the plant.

Earlier this year, Eskom chief executive Brian Dames was quoted as saying that Eskom was considering cancelling two key contracts with Hitachi – in which the ANC's investment arm Chancellor House had a 25% stake and Alstom.

But later, the utility's spokesperson Hilary Joffe said there were no immediate plans to cancel the contracts, and that Hitachi was still in charge of building the boilers.

In January, Eskom temporarily closed the power station when contract workers went on strike. Construction was also interrupted in September when workers downed tools.

Workers belonging to the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa had questioned the way their year-end bonuses were calculated, and complained that employees who lived in the area were paid less than workers who came in from Johannesburg.

Gigaba said in March the construction deadline would not change. He said strict penalties would be imposed on contractors should they fail to meet their obligations. – Sapa

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