Eskom has commissioned the first of eight units of the Medupi Power Plant, just around the same time it is shutting down the crucial Koeberg Nuclear Plant for urgent maintenance.
Medupi, with a planned capacity of 4,800 MW, has been under construction for seven years, but the last of the six turbines will only be finished in 2019, 11 years after the commencement of construction.
For all its slow pace of construction though,the facility is claimed to be the largest coal-fired power station in the country as well as being the largest dry-cooled one in the world.
The Unit 2 of the Koeberg nuclear power plant outside Cape Town, amounting to 900MW,was shut down from August 31, 2015 for three months as part of routine refuelling and maintenance.
Unit 1-the other half- of the plant was shut down for a similar period from February.
In the last five years, Eskom had deferred maintenance of many of its ageing power plants in order to head off rolling blackouts. Along with Medupi, Eskom is developing another 4,800MWcoal-fired energy facility at Kusile, which is east of Johannesburg.
The two projects, totalling generation capacity of 9,600MW of thermal energy, are outcomes of Eskom’s efforts to ease the power crisis in the country, which has been experiencing major blackouts.”Shortage of energy is a serious impediment to economic growth”, says Jacob Zuma, the South African president.