Medupi explosion bad news for power prices and load-shedding

Source: MYBROADBAND, 15 August 2021, photo credit: The Electricity Forum

The explosion that destroyed one of the generating units at Eskom’s Medupi coal power plant and caused another to trip is bad news for power tariffs and load-shedding in South Africa.

Medupi Unit 4’s generator sustained extensive damage last Sunday night after a blunder by the power plant’s staff created a volatile mix of hydrogen and oxygen that resulted in a devastating blast.

The impact was so big that some residents of Lephalale (formerly Ellisras), which is located about 10km from the plant, mistook it for an earthquake.

While no one was hurt during the incident, Eskom CEO Andre De Ruyter said repairs would cost between R1.5 billion and R2 billion and take around 2 years.

Energy expert Chris Yelland said that Eskom could reduce the repair time if an unused generator from the Kusile power station replaces the damaged one at Medupi.

While it is a complicated task to move the generator from Kusile to Medupi, it is quicker than building and importing a new unit.

Either way, Eskom will be without the 794MW of electricity that Medupi’s Unit 4 was designed to generate for some time.

To compensate for this shortfall, the power utility will likely have to rely more on its open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs) to provide emergency generation at times of high demand.
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