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South Africa’s national power utility, Eskom, announced that Unit 3 at its Medupi Power Station Project has attained commercial operation status.

The unit was officially declared commercial after the completion of its optimisation, control demonstration, and 72 hours and the 30-day reliability runs, putting all performance guarantees to effect.

“Commercial operation of Unit 3 is a major milestone that signifies that Medupi is nearing its completion; therefore, it cannot be taken lightly,” said Jan Oberholzer, chief operating officer.

“Eskom as the engine room of South Africa must ensure electricity supply for the economic growth of the country, and Unit 3 has contributed greatly to that cause,” Oberholzer added.

Unit 3 reached full load on 16 May 2018 (796MW) and was first synchronised to the national grid on 08 April 2018. Unit 3 joins its sister units, Units 6, 5 and 4 which have been commercially contributing electricity to the national grid since 23 August 2015 (U6), 3 April 2017 (U5) and 28 November 2017 (U4).

The power company applauded the Medupi team, under the leadership of Phillip Dukashe (General Manager for Medupi Power Station Project), and its execution partners who worked tirelessly to ensure the Unit is handed over for commercial operation.

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Commercial Operation status

Commercial Operation status ensures technical compliance to statutory, safety and legal requirements. This signatory milestone marks the contractual handover of the Unit from the principal contractors to Eskom.

The company said in a statement: “Unit 3 is distinctively different in that it is the first of the last three Units is supported by the auxiliary plant systems from the northern side of the site as well as the new control and instrumentation system.

“These as well as the new interfaces resulted in significant challenges different to those of the first three units. During the testing and optimisation phase, Unit 3 was delivering power intermittently; and contributing to the country’s electricity supply."