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Continued delays at Eskom power plants

By Staff Writer
Completion dates for three of Eskom’s power projects have been pushed back yet again. This was announced by Eskom acting CEO Brian Molefe during the power utility’s integrated annual results presentation for the year ended 31 March 2015.
 
These projects are the Medupi and Kusile coal fired power plants, and the Ingula pumped storage scheme. Completion of the Medupi has been postponed to 2019, while Kusile is due for completion in 2021, and Ingula in 2017.
 
According to a report, the deadlines for these projects have been delayed almost annually since 2007. To date the capacity expansion programme has cost R265 billion, excluding capitalised borrowing costs. Once completed, it is expected to cost an estimated R361 billion, excluding capitalised borrowing costs, revealed the integrated annual results.
 
The delays
 
“The delay in delivering on the new build programme has placed additional pressure on the ageing generating plant at a time when there is little spare capacity to do maintenance. Medupi is only expected to be fully operational by 2019, with six units providing total additional capacity of 4764MW. The six units at Kusile will provide an extra 4800MW but they are expected to be fully operational only by 2021. The four units of 1332MW at Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme are anticipated to be fully operational only by 2017,” said Dr Ben Ngubane, acting chairman at Eskom, in a statement in the result’s report.
 
In a statement by Molefe, he added that unit six of Medupi was synchronised on 2 March 2015, and is expected to commence commercial operation in August 2015. The second unit is expected to be synchronised in 2017, while all six units are expected to be fully operational by 2019.
 
With regards to the Kusile power plant, Molefe revealed: “The first unit of Kusile is expected to be synchronised in the first half of 2017; the six units totalling 4800MW are expected to be fully operational by 2021.”
 
Due to a fatal accident at Ingula in October 2013, Molefe pointed out that limited progress was made at the pump storage system during the past year. “The date of the first synchronisation of Unit three has been revised to the second half of 2016, with the final unit anticipated to be in commercial operation by the first half of 2017, with the pumped storage scheme supplying a total of 1332MW.”
 
The impact of the delays
 
Natasha Mazzone, Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow minister of Public Enterprises, said: “Current delays, and the resulting power cuts, have had devastating effects on our economy, which will barely grow at two percent this year, a far cry from the five percent aimed for by government.
 
“The DA will seek urgent clarity from the Minister of Public Enterprises, Lynne Brown, on whether these delays will result in further load-shedding, and the extent to which any plans have been put in place to ensure that this does not result in the stunting of growth and job creation across the country.”
 
The DA has highlighted that the ongoing power constraints, which look set to continue due to the delay in completion of these power plants, have resulted in job losses in the manufacturing sector.
 
“Lower production due to power constraints has led to jobs losses within the sector. Between April and June this year, the manufacturing sector alone shed over 23 000 jobs, according to StatsSA’s Q2 Quarterly Labour Force Survey,” added Mazzone.

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