On Monday, Eskom reported that its Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme has brought Unit 3 into commercial operation, effectively adding 333MW into the South African power grid.

The utility confirmed that 4 units at Ingula are now commercial and produce a total of 1,332MW.

These units are now part of Eskom’s Peaking fleet of power stations, where Ingula can respond to demand increases on the National Grid within two-and-a-half minutes.

Ingula Unit 3

According to the utility, Ingula unit 3 was resynchronised to the grid in October 2016 post repairs based on an incident during the optimisation process.

Eskom’s Interim Group Chief Executive, Matshela Koko said: “The commercial operation of Unit 3 completes the Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme project. This will further strengthen security of power supply to South African homes and businesses.

“I am thrilled that we are on track to deliver all New Build projects on line timeously, this achievement would not have been possible without the hard working team at Ingula and strong executive leadership in Eskom.”

Plant background

The power company explains that Ingula’s four units are located 350 meters underground in the world’s largest machine hall in mud-rock. To turn the more than 500 tonnes of rotating mass of the Generator Rotor and Turbine, water is released from Ingula’s upper dam, Bedford Dam, situated 460 meters higher and two kilometers away.

Water flows at high speeds down to the turbines at around 60km per hour with enough water passing through each turbine to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in six seconds. Rotating at 428 revolutions per minute, each unit will produce 333MW, a total for the station of 1,332MW.

Unit 4 went into commercial operation on 10 June 2016 while Unit 2 went into commercial operation on 22 August 2016 and Unit 1 went into commercial operation on 30 August 2016 respectively.

The utility added that in terms of capacity, Ingula is Africa’s newest and largest pumped storage scheme and the 14th largest pumped storage scheme in the world.

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