On Monday, South African state-owned power utility, Eskom, announced that Unit 4 at its Ingula pumped storage power station was handed over for commercial operation on Friday, 10 June 2016.
The grid has since secured an additional 333MW of generated power since the weekend. This is the first of four units to commercially support the national grid ahead of schedule, powering South Africa into the future, the utility said in a company statement.
The company added that Unit 4 was synchronised to the national grid on 25 March 2016 and has been undergoing optimisation whilst supporting the grid.
Abram Masango, Eskom’s Group Executive for Group Capital said: “This moment in time is the culmination of many years and countless hours of work, and that are immensely proud and conscious of the significance of this Ingula team’s achievement.
“Through this effort, Eskom’s New Build Programme is on track to deliver the much need capacity that South Africans require to grow the economy to ensure a better life for all.”
Ingula in development for a decade
Spanning across the KwaZulu Natal and the Free State Provinces, the Ingula plant commenced construction in 2006, with all four units expected to come online in 2017.
“Thanks to the hard work and drive of the Ingula team, Unit 4 was brought forward ahead of the 2017 schedule,” the utility optimistically expressed in a statement.
Explaining how the power station operates Eskom said: “Ingula’s four units are located 350 metres underground in the world’s largest machine hall in mud-rock. To turn the more than 500 ton rotating mass of the Generator Rotor and Turbine, water is released from Ingula’s upper dam, Bedford Dam, situated 460 metres higher and two kilometres 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. On completion of all 4 units, Ingula will be part of Eskom’s Peaking fleet of power stations.”
It can respond to demand increases on the national grid within two-and-a-half minutes, the utility highlighted.
Earning itself a global title
According to the parastatal, once completed the power station will be Africa’s newest and largest pumped storage scheme and the 19th largest in the world.
[quote]Ingula Unit 3 is currently under repair based on an incident that was experienced during the optimisation process, post synchronisation. This unit was synchronised to the national grid on 6 March 2016 and supported the grid until 6 April 2016 when the incident occurred.
Ingula Unit 2 was synchronised to the national grid on 22 May 2016 and is currently under optimisation. Ingula Unit 1 is still under construction. Ingula Units 3, 2 and 1 are on track for commercial operation in 2017.