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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

2007

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.

2008

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. 

2011

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.

2014

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.

2017

Unit 1 achieves commercial power.

Unit 2 was synchronised to the national grid.

2018

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.

2019

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.

2020

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.

Dennis Ayemba
Country/ Features Editor, Kenya

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