Medupi delays confirmed

FILE PICTURE: The view from boiler unit six at the Medupi power plant.
Picture: Desiree Swart

FILE PICTURE: The view from boiler unit six at the Medupi power plant. Picture: Desiree Swart

A further delay in the synchronisation of Medupi’s Unit 6 with the national grid is on the cards, a briefing by Eskom’s Medupi project manager, Roman Crookes, and the head of capital projects, Dan Morakane, has revealed.

Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown and other key stakeholders are being informed of the possibility, the briefing said.

In September the Medupi project team and the minister committed themselves to synchronisation by December 24. Eskom has even been conducting a well-publicised 100-day countdown to this date.

Largely symbolic

Though the exact date of synchronisation is largely symbolic, Eskom has been at pains to point out the significant progress being made at the unit.

Delays beyond December 24 will be damaging to Eskom’s reputation and credibility and the project team is exploring interventions to minimise delays in synchronisation, which extend to mid-January next year.

This follows repeated earlier broken progress commitments by Eskom and comes while the utility is conducting mandatory countrywide rotating load shedding, resulting directly from the delays in the completion of Medupi and Kusile.

Unit 6 is the first of six 800MW units at Medupi and is scheduled to deliver power by mid-2015. The second unit is scheduled for handover by mid/end 2016, with the remaining four units following at six-monthly intervals thereafter, with completion set for mid to end 2018.

The six units at Eskom’s Kusile Power Station are each scheduled for 2019.

But it could all have been completed 10 years earlier.

The 1998 Government White Paper on Energy Policy made it clear decisions for new generation capacity were needed by 1999 to avoid power shortages by 2008. Decisions were given to Eskom in 2004 only.

Thus government’s dithering delayed commencement of the capacity-build programme by at least five years.

Then in December 2007 the Eskom board finally approved the construction of the six units at Medupi, for handover of the last unit for commercial use by October 31 last year. The construction of six units at Kusile received board approval in March 2008, for handover by October 31 this year.

So execution delays by Eskom resulted in a further five-year delay at Medupi and Kusile.

Soaring costs

The cost initially approved by the Eskom board for the construction of Medupi was R69.1 billion and R80.6 billion for Kusile.

The final costs to completion for both Medupi and Kusile are still uncertain, but are currently estimated at R154.2 billion and R172.2 billion respectively.

Further cost increases are expected to be announced over the next few weeks.

Yelland is the investigative editor at EE Publishers.




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