majuba 1
The Mpumalanga based Majuba coal-fired power station has been successfully operating a temporary solution since it lost generation output in 2014. Pic credit: Eskom

On Monday, Eskom Group Chief Executive, Brian Molefe said that the Majuba coal-fired power station has made significant progress since the collapse of one of its silos in 2014. Since this incident, the utility has implemented a short term solution which has recouped the lost generation and has been running at full capacity since February 2015.

Design flaw: cause of collapse

In November 2014, one of the plant’s silos, holding 10,000 tonnes of coal, cracked and collapsed, resulting in the loss of almost 3,000MW.

The African News Agency reported that the state-owned utility carried out an investigation which indicated that a design flaw in the silo was to blame for the collapse.

During a media briefing on Monday Molefe said: “The investigation has been concluded which shows there was a flaw in the design of the silo. American design standards were used, which were of much lower standards compared to now.”

Interim solution

Molefe explained that the interim solution is using a newly constructed and temporary conveyer belt system which delivers coal into the power station, while curtailing the amount of trucks used for coal transport from 160 to an average of 90 trucks.

According to the chief executive, the design for the permanent solution has been completed which includes the reinstatement of the collapsed silo and the associated coal conveyer system as well as the reinforcement of additional silos to avoid a repeat incident.

Optimistic outlook

Molefe gave an update on the new build programme, indicating that Unit 6 at Medupi was commercialised in August 2015 and Units 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 will follow. Unit 5 is scheduled to come online in March 2018 and Unit 1 is expected to be commercialised in July 2018.

Referring to the 99 days of no load shedding, Molefe said that this stable supply of electricity has resulted in an increase of manufacturing output which has shown an increase of 0.9% year-on-year.

Molefe stressed the importance that Eskom plays in contributing to the economic growth and development of the country, by ensuring that the manufacturing industries have access to a reliable supply of power, which will maintain and boost the level of production.