medupi power plant
Eskom’s coal-fired power plant Medupi’s Unit 6 was successfully synchronised to the national power grid
Medupi Power Plant
Medupi power station: Unit 6 is coming closer to achieving to its intended generation output capacity of 794MW

South African parastatal Eskom announced on Thursday that the first unit of its coal-fired power station Medupi Unit 6 reached a new output level of 735MW generated on Monday, 11 May 2015.

According to the South African power utility, the unit ran for a record of six days and four hours without a trip until Sunday, 3 May 2015.

In March, the Limpopo province-based Medupi’s Unit 6 began producing its first power, the first of the six units to be connected to the national grid.

Eskom said at the time that the unit was synchronised and connected to the national power grid in such a way that its power was perfectly aligned with all the other generators to generate and deliver electricity into the national power grid.

At the time of breaking the news, former Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona said that this was the final stage towards reaching full commercial power.

Matona said: “The electricity flowing into the grid marks a new beginning. Within the next three months, South Africa will see Medupi Unit 6’s full potential of 794MW being fed into the South African national grid. I congratulate Team Medupi for their efforts in achieving this important milestone for South Africa.”

Milestone reached for Medupi team

Eskom’s acting chief executive Brian Molefe said: “We are pleased with this significant milestone and believe that power from this unit will go a long way in alleviating the capacity challenges we are facing.”

He added: “We commend the project team for their hard work and level of commitment in these trying times and this achievement gives a strong indication that we are steadily turning the corner in our quest to ease the pressure on the national power grid.”

Assessing the outcomes

Eskom said in a statement that Medupi Unit 6 is “being progressively commissioned and optimised to ensure that the power it delivers is stable, consistent and reliable. During this testing phase, the unit is not expected to stay on load for long periods of time and will deliver power intermittently.”

The South African power utility claims that the testing will stop during the peak demand periods and power will be generated to alleviate pressure on the grid.

“Such calls to alleviate pressure on the grid have seen the unit generating electricity for 147 hours continuously which also serves to prove Unit 6’s capability thus far,” Eskom said in a statement.

Forward thinking for Medupi

The coal-fired power plant consists of six units, each with an expected generation capacity of 794MW, with a sum total of 4,764MW, which is approximately 12% of Eskom’s total installed capacity.

Eskom claims that once complete, Medupi will be the fourth largest coal power station and the largest dry-cooled power station in the world.

“Unit 6 will progressively be tested and fine-tuned further until the project is satisfied that the systems are fully operable and reliable for final handover. This is also to ensure that the unit is safe to operate, and will perform exactly as designed for the next 50 years,” Eskom concluded.