Johannesburg, South Africa — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 14 February 2011 – The recent damage to the 600MW units at Duvha power station presents a challenge to South African national power utility Eskom Holdings, according to Frost & Sullivan energy and power research analyst Vincent Maposa.
“The damaged unit will take several months to repair, and should another one of the country’s
power stations experience mechanical or technical problems, it will further decrease available capacity and greatly affect Eskom’s ability to satisfy national demand,” Maposa said.
“This emphasises the need for the country to maintain a sizable reserve margin,” he noted.
The 600MW unit at Duvha represents less than 1.5% of electricity installed capacity. He believed that the incident would place further strain on the country’s generation supply, which had a reserve margin of about 8%.
“Despite the minimal effect to the country’s electricity supply situation caused by this incident in particular, massive turbine failure or other unplanned for disturbances at power stations could lead to significant power problems in the country,” he reiterated.
Last Thursday Eskom announced that Unit Four of its Duvha power station had been damaged in the course of a routine test. However, the other five units of the 3 600MW power station were running normally.
Eskom added that the event had taken place when the 600MW unit at Duvha had been taken off load to perform a required turbine test. “This is a statutory test that is carried out on every power station,” a spokesman said.
In the execution of the test, the protection on the unit failed causing severe mechanical damage and started a fire, which was brought under control rapidly by the power station’s fire team.