Electricity Minister Kgosientso Ramokgopa has announced that South Africa was finally turning the corner in generating enough energy capacity to the benefit of the economy and millions of households and businesses across the country.
Ramokgopa made the announcement during his weekly update of the country’s Energy Action Plan (EAP) yesterday, as he detailed the efforts being made to restore the stable provision of electricity supply and ensure adequate energy generation.
According to Ramokgopa, progress was made as a result of the exemption granted by the minister following a request made by Eskom to exceed the licence emissions parameters at the Kusile power station in light of the issues associated with the flue gas desulphurisation unit.
He explained that the flue gas desulphurisation unit was an engineering component that was meant to reduce the amount of sulphur content emitted into the atmosphere.
It was for this reason, he said, that units 1, 2 and 3 at Kusile had to be discontinued as the teams had first to address a number of issues such as safety and ensure that they did not exceed the licence emissions parameters as per the legislative requirements.
The discontinuation of the units at Kusile, according to Ramokgopa, meant that the country had essentially lost out on 2 400 megawatts since October 2022 when the units were taken off the grid.
Each of the units at Kusile generated at least 800 megawatts.
He said a number of interim measures had to be considered before returning the units, which included a root cause analysis to address the significant amount of slurry that had been deposited on the walls of the 210-metre chimney which releases emissions into the atmosphere.
The slurry was said to pose a potential threat to the structural integrity of the chimney, hence the need to conduct the analysis before proceeding with any other steps.
However, since the minister granted the exemption he said they had been given a 12-month reprieve to exceed emissions until December 2024.
“Through assistance of experts in the environmental space we have been able to comprehensively respond to objections raised which were concerned with the well-being of the community in the catchment area within the Kusile power station and its footprint.
“Although we are seeking exemptions and we know that will mean we will not to meet emissions parameters as it relates to the sulphur dioxide released, we have put in place measures to ensure that the sum degree of mitigation associated with that is not long-term,” he said.
As a result of the approval, the minister said Kusile’s unit 3 was now producing 550 megawatts and they would continue to ramp it up to get to 800 megawatts.
“I’m really excited to indicate that now we are beginning to turn the corner in this instance because it means that we have that additional generating capacity and bringing back those three units.
“We will be returning the other units during the course of October and then the last of the three will also come in late October and early November.“
In addition, unit 5 would also be kick-started around December to provide additional capacity, he said.