HomeBiggest projectsProject TimelinesKusile power station project timeline and what you need to know

Kusile power station project timeline and what you need to know

Kusile is a coal-fired power station close to the existing Kendal power station in the Delmas municipal area of the Mpumalanga province South Africa. It is the second most advanced coal-fired power plant project in Eskom after Medupi power station in Lephalale. As a rule, a coal-fired power station takes about eight years to build.

The over US $7bn station will consist of six units each rated at approximately 800MW installed capacity giving a total of 4800MW. As such it will be one of the largest coal-fired power stations in the world, once finished. The power station will be coal fired, with the coal supplied by a new colliery near the power station. Below is the Kusile power station timeline and all you need to know about the project from beginning to the present date.

Also Read: Medupi Power Project timeline and what you need to know


Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism issued a positive Record of Decision. As a rule, a coal-fired power station takes about eight years to build; the project was not expected to complete Unit 1 until 2017 (approximately 8 years after initial works began) and the entire project not until 2021.

Black and Veatch was appointed as the project engineer for construction.


Hitachi Power Africa awarded the boiler contract worth US $1.1bn. 

Alstom S&E awarded the turbine island works contract valued at US $777.6m. 


Black & Veatch Corp. Awarded approval for US $805.6m in financing from the U.S. Export-Import Bank.

In May, Eleven contractor vehicles, seven offices, two large mobile cranes, and the west wing of the KCW office block were set alight, vehicles stoned, and offices and stores looted. This caused major delays in the implementation of the project.


300 ton 910 MVA Generator Step-up Transformer placed on its foundation, assembled with all its Auxiliary systems and filled with 128 000 Litres of Mineral Oil. All Electrical integrity tests were performed successfully to confirm that the transformer was ready to receive power.

In February 1400 employees reported absent due to labor disputes causing further delays.


Unit 1 achieves commercial power.

Unit 2 was synchronised to the national grid.


In August, a fire breaks out at the station amidst tensions with unions over pay increases causing damage. This also caused further delays.

The governments Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan announced a forensic probe into delays and cost overruns on the completion of Kusile and Medupi Power Stations.


Unit 3 was synchronised to the national grid.

In November South African investigative journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh published an article in the Daily Maverick detailing an alleged slush fund corruption scandal involving Eskom executives and at least four contractors. The scandal involved contracts worth a combined US $598m resulting in an estimated US $4.5m being lost due to irregular activities. By the time of the publication of Myburgh’s article the construction of Kusile was five years past its original completion date and an estimated US $5.4bn over budget.


In late October, Eskom announced that Unit 2 at the Kusile power station had attained commercial operation status and would contribute up to 800MW to the national grid. According to Eskom, this was the second unit at Kusile to enter commercial operation, with Unit 1 having done so in 2017. Furthermore, construction, testing and optimisation activities on the remaining four units were progressing well, with some of them currently providing intermittent power to support the grid.

The utility is fitting WFGD to the Kusile plant as an atmospheric emission abatement technology to ensure compliance with air quality standards, in line with current international practice.

In early November, Eskom launched a tender for the construction of the combustion Waste Terrace Phase 2.

In December, it was announced that Eskom was set to recover US $106m from ABB South Africa, after the company and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) reached an agreement with ABB to pay back in full, money derived from overpayment by Eskom. The unlawful contract by ABB, was for work at the Kusile Power station that commenced in 2015.

The recovery follows the issuing of summons by Eskom and the SIU for damages of about US $257.8m in the North Gauteng High Court to recover funds from former Eskom executives, former Board members, members of the Gupta family and their associates.


In late March, Eskom announced that Unit 3 of the Kusile Power Station achieved commercial operation status. This brings to three the number of generation units that have achieved commercial status at the project, generating a maximum of 2400MW to support the South African power grid. Bringing the 800MW unit to commercial status means construction activity has come to an end on half of the eMalahleni, Mpumalanga project.

The achievement of this milestone follows two years of rigorous testing and optimisation since the unit was first synchronised into the national grid in April 2019. This significant milestone marks the contractual handover of the unit from the principal contractors under the Group Capital Build project unit to the Generation division.
In mid-May, the Deputy President David Mabuza confirmed that the Kusile Power Station is set to be operational by 2023. Mabuza was accompanied by a ministerial task team, including Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe, acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshaveni and State Security Minister, Ayanda Dlodlo while conducting oversight of the now 50% operational Kusile Power Station in Mpumalanga.
In mid-June, South African Deputy President David Mabuza said that the Eskom board and management are committed to completing Kusile power station within the revised, board-approved completion date in the 2024/25 financial year, and within the project budget of US $82.7bn, excluding interest during construction.
In late June, Eskom added that despite the fact that only one unit out of six at the Kusile Power Station is online and contributing to the national grid, construction of the project is set for completion in May next year. Eskom said that the project is not necessarily behind schedule but the contractor is dealing with a number of defects which are causing some delays.

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Dennis Ayemba
Country/ Features Editor, Kenya


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