South Africa is on the rise and it is projects such as the Medupi power station that are creating growth in the economy, says President Jacob Zuma.
He was speaking at the completion of the hydrostatic pressure test for unit 6 at the power station in Lephalale, Limpopo province last week.
The test was undertaken to ensure that the boiler was fully functional and ready to start generating electricity for South Africa’s national grid. Medupi is due to make its first contribution to the grid at the end of 2013.
A ‘mega project’
Eskom board chairperson Zola Tsotsi, describing Medupi as a “mega project”, said it was the first new coal-fired power station Eskom had built in more than 20 years.
“Medupi will operate with greater efficiency – this means it will use less coal and less water for every unit of electricity it generates than all the coal-fired power stations,” Tsotsi said.
The boiler and turbine contracts for Medupi are the largest contracts that Eskom has signed in its 87-year history. The planned operational life of the station is 50 years.
Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said Medupi was one of the largest construction sites in the Southern Hemisphere, employing about 17 000 people who would otherwise be without work.
In total, about 40 000 job opportunities are expected to be created by the new power station.
Zuma was impressed with the progress of the project. “We might not satisfy every need on the same day, but we are getting there,” he said. “We are doing the right thing with regards to infrastructure that will create enough jobs.
“Electricity sounds like a simple, basic service, but it is actually the lifeblood of the economy, of any economy.”
South Africa’s energy demand is expected to be twice the current levels by 2030.
“Government took the bold decision to build Medupi and other big new power stations … Eskom is spending R340-billion on the projects, making it the largest infrastructure development investment programme South Africa has ever undertaken,” Zuma said.
“Once all six units are completed, Medupi will be able to produce enough electricity to power almost all of Gauteng,” he added.
Zuma also noted the major impact Medupi was having in Lephalale, including job creation, skills development, upgrading of houses and development of social infrastructure.
“Lephalale will certainly never be the same again because of the Medupi Power Station.”