Riccardo Ridolfi

Last week, South African state-owned power utility Eskom released its integrated results for the six month ending on 30 September 2016, which highlighted the progress of its capacity expansion programme.

Capacity expansion programme makes progress

Forming part of the utility’s capacity expansion programme, the Ingula pumped hydro power station in the Free State province, has seen its Unit 4, 2, and 1 in commercial operation since 10 June, 22 August and 30 August respectively, adding 999MW of peaking capacity.

Unit 3 was synchronised to the grid on 29 October 2016 after repairs were completed and is on track for commercial operation by 2017, the utility said in statement.

Medupi and Kusile picking up pace

Unit 6 of the Medupi coal-fired power station has been in commercial operation since August 2015 and Unit 5 was synchronised to the national grid on 8 September 2016.

According to the utility, the synchronisation of Unit 5 marks a key milestone towards the full commercial operation of the unit ahead of its scheduled commercial operation in March 2018. Progress is also being made on Unit 4 of the Medupi project.

The Kusile Power Station project is making significant strides with Unit 1 continuing to achieve set milestones, and is expected to reach commercial operation by the second half of 2018.

The Kusile project has mechanically completed and commissioned the first wet flue gas desulphurisation, thereby being the first to install the technology, not only in South Africa, but the continent of Africa.

Unit 2 is progressing well. The project completed hydro-testing of the Unit 2 boiler on 1 October 2016, which will positively influence the achievement of boiler registration.

On the transmission side, 53km of lines have been installed and 1,050MVA transformers have been commissioned for electricity transmission.

The parastatal stressed that it remains focused on bringing new capacity online, with 9,104MW to be commissioned over the next 6 years.

Electricity connections boom

On Tuesday, the parastatal reported that its quest to achieve universal electricity access is gaining momentum.

It has more than doubled the number of new households electrified from 41,778 in September 2015 to 99,869 for the 6 months to 30 September 2016 and almost 5 million since inception.

“At this rate, we are gradually moving towards our target of 207,332 connections by the end of this financial year (31 March 2017),” the parastatal said.

“A special focus is on the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal, in order to address backlogs, thus making life easier for our people.”

In February this year the National Treasury announced that it will allocate ZAR17.6 billion ($1 billion) to Eskom and municipalities for the rollout of the electrification programme to over 800,000 households over the next three years.

A further 70,000 households will be connected through non-grid technologies like solar photovoltaics (PVs).