South African Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown says Unit 3 of KwaZulu-Natal’s Ingula Storage Pump Scheme has been synchronised onto the Eskom power grid.
Briefing the media at the Imbizo Centre in Cape Town on Thursday, the Minister said this milestone will allow Eskom to continue with its maintenance programme and reduce the pressure in the power grid.
“Today I would like to announce that unit 3 of Ingula was successfully synchronised to the grid on 6 March 2016. This means an additional 333 MW capacity will be available to the grid as commissioning progresses towards the unit’s full commercial operation in January 2017,” says Brown.
The Ingula Storage Pump Scheme, which is currently under construction in the escarpment of the little Drankensberg, consists of an upper dam (Bedford Dam) and a lower dam (Bramhoek Dam), 4.6 km apart and connected by waterway tunnels.
The underground powerhouse houses four 333 MW reversible pump turbines/units.
The construction of the lower waterways was completed in December 2015 and filled with the water from the lower dam.
Minister Brown said the testing of unit 4 before synchronisation has already started, while the major construction work on both unit 1 and unit 2 has also been completed.
She said the delivery of subsequent units and the rest of the build programme are important in enabling the country’s economy to grow and attract further investments.
“Energy has been cited as a constraint to economic growth over the last year but it is clear that South Africa has been able to deal decisively with this challenge to ensure that we support the economic recovery.
“I commend the team at Eskom for progress made in the execution of the build programme and overall improvement in the performance of the business.
“This company has shown great resilience through difficult times and remains a critical enabler in supporting the South African economy,” she says.
Brian Molefe, Eskom Group Chief Executive Officer once the rest of the Ingula units are completed, they will collectively contribute 1 300 MW of power to the grid.
He says the Eskom team has worked tirelessly to ensure lights stay on throughout and that the units are delivered on time.
The Group CEO says once the rest of the multi-billion rand Capital Expansion Programme – which includes the construction of two coal-powered power stations Kusile and Medupi and the hydro pumped storage scheme Ingula – has been completed, the country will have a surplus energy.
“Once completed in the next five years, our capacity expansion programme, which is the largest in the company’s history, will increase our generation capacity by 17 384 MW, transmission lines by 9 756 km and substation capacity by 42 470 MVA.”
“This will enable us to provide security of electricity supply to South African homes and businesses, powering economic expansion and extending electricity to millions of households who currently rely on other fuel sources for domestic cooking,” he said.
Since its inception in 2005, the capacity expansion programme has added 7 031 MW of generation capacity, 6 048 of transmission lines and 31 590 MVA of substation capacity.