Eskom - []

Kusile power station’s Unit 1 has been connected to the national grid for the first time this year, power utility Eskom has said.

Connected to grid on Monday, the unit adds an extra 800MW to further stabilise the power system to support South Africa’s economic growth and the rollout of the electrification programme.

The connection of Unit 1 of Kusile comes at a time when Eskom has incrementally been building excess capacity to ensure security of power supply.

“Eskom has focussed on lessons learnt from its past history of new build projects and this has led to this early synchronisation. Our build programme is now delivering ahead of our re-baseline schedule, our operations have stabilised and as a result, we are in a position of surplus capacity,” said acting Group Chief Executive Matshela Koko.

Kusile is a green-fields coal-fired power plant which is located near the existing Kendal Power Station in the Nkangala District of Mpumalanga. It will comprise six units, each rated at an 800MW installed capacity with total capacity of 4 800MW.

Construction at the power plant commenced in 2008, and the power station is planned to be fully installed by 2022.

In addition, to Unit 6 of the Medupi power station which has been operating for over a year now, Eskom’s new build programme has also added 1 332MW from all four units of the Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme, as well as the sychronisation of Medupi Unit 5.

Excess capacity has enabled Eskom to increase its electrification target to over 200 000 households by end of March 2017, against the target of 169 722 that has been set for it by the Department of Energy.

At the same time, Eskom has also increased its electricity exports to neighbouring states, many of whom have had their hydro scheme adversely affected by drought.

Eskom’s electricity sales to Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe rose 31.6% in the six months to 30 September 2016.

“I invite business to invest in the economy because the availability of electricity is no longer a constraint to the growth of the economy,” said Koko. –