Kusile Unit 3 supplying 720 MW to grid, Eskom confirms

9th October 2023 By: Terence Creamer - Creamer Media Editor

Kusile Unit 3 supplying 720 MW to grid, Eskom confirms

The Kusile power station
Photo by: Creamer Media's Donna Slater

Eskom has confirmed that Unit 3 at the Kusile coal-fired power station is currently providing 720 MW into the electricity grid using a temporary flue that bypasses the flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) pollution control system.

Unit 3 was restarted on September 30, just short of a year after it as well as units one and two became inoperable on October 23, 2022, after a slurry build-up in the Unit 1 flue led to its collapse, damaging in the process the other two flues in the west chimney they share.

Before the units could resume production, Eskom sought and received a postponement to Kusile’s compliance with minimum emission standards in relation to its sulphur dioxide emissions.

Speaking during an update on the Energy Action Plan, Eskom’s Eric Shunmagum said the utility had been pleased by the unit’s stable performance since resuming production and expressed confidence that the schedule for returning the other two units to service would be met.

The other units would be introduced in stages, with Unit 1 officially due for return on October 30 and Unit 2 on November 30.

“We are definitely on track,” Shunmagum said.

“Unit 1 is now ready in terms of the construction programme [and] the team is busy with the actual commissioning.”

He also reported that Unit 5, which was damaged by a fire ahead of commissioning, was being prepared for synchronisation to the grid towards the end of December.

The introduction of the four Kusile units, as well as the ongoing operation of four units at Tutuka, where only a single unit had been operational for much of the year, was seen as critical as Eskom entered its high-maintenance summer period.

Planned maintenance is scheduled to peak at about 7 000 MW between mid-December and mid-January, a period that coincides with South Africa’s low-demand holiday period.

Eskom indicated recently that if unplanned breakdowns could be maintained at below 14 500 MW, it did not expect loadshedding to rise above Stage 4 this summer.

Meanwhile, Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa reiterated again at the briefing that “we are turning the corner” with regard to loadshedding, with 2023 having been South Africa’s worst-ever year for power cuts.