Eskom has energised the high voltage (HV) yard and three power lines at the Ingula pumped storage scheme project currently under construction near Ladysmith on the border of KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State in South Africa. This energisation completes the first phase of the integration of the power station’s transmission system and was done at a total cost of R1.1-billion.

A seven-day outage was arranged for the energisation work and the line was fully energised on the 8th day. The integration work was simultaneously carried out by three contractors to keep within the outage time. These are Roshcon Ltd SOC (main contractor), Optipower projects (subcontractor), Babcock Nthuthuka power lines (subcontractor). The latest energisation milestone was achieved on 13 June 2014.

The Ingula pumped-storage scheme, located within the Little Drakensberg mountain range, 23 km north-east of Van Reenen’s, comprises an upper dam (Bedford) and a lower dam (Braamhoek). The upper reservoir site is located in the Free State and the lower reservoir site in KwaZulu-Natal. The escarpment forms the border between the two provinces. Ingula is the biggest construction project, in terms of expenditure, in both the KwaZulu-Natal and Free State provinces.

The Ingula pump storage scheme will have four generating units of 325 MW each. These units will be capable of supplying 1,300 MW to the national electricity grid to address peak electricity demand.  The units will come on line starting from 2015. The operational life of the power station is expected to be 50 years.

The final milestones of the Ingula pumped storage scheme will be achieved from 2015 as each generating unit becomes ready for commercial operation.  These units’ output will be connected to the HV yard using 400kV cross linked poly ethylene (XLPE) cables. This will be the first installation of 400kV cables in South Africa.  The cable is supplied and installed through a joint venture between the local company CBI and French company Prysmian. The preparation work for laying the cables in the tunnels joining the HV yard to the power station has commenced.

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