Johannesburg - South Africa's Eskom expects to have the first unit of its Medupi power plant operating by early next year, the utility said on Thursday, as it races to ease tight supply and keep the lights on in Africa's most advanced economy.
Medupi, a coal-fired plant with expected total capacity of 4,800 megawatts, is one of three large-scale power plants Eskom is building to ease pressure on the grid, but progress had been had been hit by labour unrest and technical glitches.
“Medupi's Unit 6 is on track for synchronisation by December 2014, taking it to full commercial operation in the first quarter of 2015,” acting chief executive Collin Matjila told reporters in Johannesburg.
But construction of Medupi, which has six units each with capacity of 800 MW, may face further delays if the metalworkers union follows through on its threat to strike from next month in the metal and engineering industries.
Construction of a second coal-fired power station, Kusile, has also been hit by delays and the first unit from the plant is expected to come online next year.
“Kusile's overall performance against target is still nowhere Eskom would like it to be,” Matjila said.
Eskom has said power supply would remain tight until the new plants are ready. In March it imposed rolling blackouts for the first time in six years after the grid came under intense strain. - Reuters