Medupi Power Station. Pic credit. Reinart Toerien. EWN

Eskom’s coal-fired power station, Medupi, synchronised its Unit 5 to the national power grid on Thursday, becoming the second of the power station’s six units to come on stream, the utility noted.

The parastatal added: “The synchronisation of Unit 5 also marks a key milestone towards the full commercial operation of the unit ahead of its scheduled commercial operation in March 2018.”

Medupi is gaining speed

Eskom explained in a statement that from date of synchronisation, the unit starts to generate and deliver electricity into the grid over several months.

Eskom Group Chief Executive Brian Molefe said: “Medupi Unit 5 synchronisation is a clear indication that we are on track on delivering the entire new build programme to the country.

“This milestone further strengthens our position that load shedding is becoming a thing of the past. I am thrilled by this achievement. Eskom has turned the corner.”

This was echoed by Eskom chairperson Dr Baldwin Ngubane: “This achievement of Medupi Unit 5 synchronisation is proof that Eskom is in good hands under the leadership of Brian Molefe and his executive team.

“We commend the team for their dedication and commitment in working tirelessly to ensure that Unit 5 synchronisation is achieved ahead of schedule. This is a remarkable achievement.”

Taking first place

According to the power company, once the Limpopo-based plant reaches full commercial operation, Medupi will be the fourth largest coal-fired power plant, and the largest dry-cooled power station in the world.

It will consist of six units with an installed capacity of 4,800MW and an estimated operational life of 50 years.

The parastatal explained: “The Medupi power station uses direct dry-cooling systems due to the water scarcity in the Lephalale area. Dry-cooling systems use air instead of water to cool the steam exiting a turbine.

“The power plant incorporates super critical technology, which is able to operate at higher temperatures than Eskom’s earlier generation of boilers and turbines.

“Importantly, the technology enables the power plant to operate with greater efficiency, resulting in better use of natural resources such as water and coal, and will have improved environmental performance.”