File picture: Dumisani Sibeko/Independent Newspapers.

JOHANNESBURG  - Unit 3 of the Kusile Power Station, situated near eMalahleni in Mpumalanga, was synchronised to the national grid and produced its first power early on Tuesday evening, power utility Eskom said.

“Unit 3 was synchronised more than 8 months ahead of the approved target date of December 2019. Once Unit 3 has attained full power, it will be a step closer to be commercially operational which is currently targeted at November 2019,” Eskom’s Chief Operations Officer Jan Oberholzer said via a statement.

“I would like to thank everyone involved in this mammoth project, particularly the Kusile leadership and staff for achieving this significant and highly commendable milestone for Eskom and for the country. Thank you too for your continued commitment and for going the many extra miles in striving to achieve Eskom’s objectives. We are proud of your collective achievements and we salute you all.”

Eskom said that the synchronisation happened on Sunday, and the unit was loaded and kept stable at 60MW. The first synchronisation of Unit 3 marks a key milestone towards the full commercial operation of the unit, Eskom said. 

"The next step will be testing and optimisation of the unit over several months which means it will be providing intermittent power to the grid, and at times may even provide zero megawatts. Once all the testing is done, the unit will be fully powered at 800MW and feed into the national grid for the country’s consumption," Eskom said.

"The construction and commissioning activities on the remaining three Kusile units, namely Unit 4, 5 and 6, is progressing well. Once completed, Kusile’s six units will produce a total of 4 800 MW. Kusile is the first power station in South Africa and Africa to use wet flue gas desulphurisation (WFGD) technology."

WFGD was the current state-of-the-art technology used to remove oxides of sulphur (SOx), for example, sulphur dioxide (SO2), from the exhaust flue gas in power plants that burn coal or oil, according to the statement.  

Eskom said it was fitting WFGD to the Kusile plant as an "atmospheric emission abatement technology, in line with current international practice, to ensure compliance with air quality standards".

African News Agency (ANA)