South Africa – Eskom announced on Thursday that unit 6 of the Medupi power station in Limpopo reached a new output level of 735 MW on Monday May 11, 2015, since its successful synchronisation on March 2, 2015.

“This is a significant achievement and indicates that Eskom is closer to achieve the maximum load of 794 MW,” the power utility said in a statement.

The unit ran for a record of six days and four hours without a trip until Sunday May 3, 2015.

Medupi’s unit 6 is being progressively commissioned and optimised to ensure that the power it delivers is stable, consistent and reliable. During this testing phase, the unit is not expected to stay on load for long periods of time and will deliver power intermittently.

However, during the peak demand periods, testing stops and power is generated to alleviate pressure on the grid. Such calls to alleviate pressure on the grid have seen the unit generating electricity for 147 hours continuously, which also serves to prove unit 6’s capability thus far.

Alleviating capacity challenges

“We are pleased with this significant milestone and believe that power from this unit will go a long way in alleviating the capacity challenges we are facing. We commend the project team for their hard work and level of commitment in these trying times and this achievement gives a strong indication that we are steadily turning the corner in our quest to ease the pressure on the national power grid,” Eskom’s acting chief executive Brian Molefe says.

Medupi at a glance

Medupi consists of six units of approximately 794 MW each, for a grand total of 4 764 MW, which is approximately 12% of Eskom’s total installed capacity. Once complete, Medupi will be the fourth largest coal power station and the largest dry-cooled power station in the world.

Unit 6 will progressively be tested and fine-tuned further until the project is satisfied that the systems are fully operable and reliable for final handover. This is also to ensure that the unit is safe to operate, and will perform exactly as designed for the next 50 years.

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