The Kusile power station reached a major milestone on the road to commercial operation with Unit 1 reaching full load last week, said Eskom.

This follows the initial synchronisation of the same Kusile unit on 26 December 2016. Synchronisation kicks off a sequence of testing activities leading to commercial operation, which begins with post-synchronisation testing. This is followed by the combustion optimisation process to support initial full load. Currently, Kusile Unit 1 is in the final stages of the combustion optimisation phase.

Achieving full load means running the Kusile unit at the full design and operating capacity. For Kusile Unit 1, the full load-generating capacity is 800 MW. Kusile Unit 1 going on full load is just one more step closer to the ultimate goal of commercial operation.

Meanwhile, the construction and commissioning activities on the remaining Kusile units, Unit 2 to Unit 6, continue to progress uninterruptedly with the drive to early completion.

The Kusile power station will consist of six units, which will produce a total of 4 800 MW. As such, Kusile will be one of the largest coal-fired power stations in the world once it is completed.

“This milestone would never have been possible without the commitment that the Kusile execution team, led by Frans Sithole, has displayed. I praise the team for this achievement and the long hours worked in ensuring that Unit 1 goes on full load,” said Abram Masango, group executive: group capital division.

Situated near eMalahleni in Mpumalanga, Kusile power station is South Africa’s largest multibillion-rand construction project and will be the fourth largest coal plant in the world once completed.

Kusile is the first power station in South Africa and Africa to use wet flue gas desulphurisation (WFGD) technology. WFGD is 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.

Eskom is fitting WFGD to the Kusile plant as an atmospheric emission abatement technology to ensure compliance with air quality standards.This makes the Kusile power station environmentally friendly, especially since Kusile is situated in a priority air shed.