Eskom says Medupi has 50 years of planned operational life, but there are still glaring concerns about cost overruns counted into hundreds of billions of rands. But it will only reliably deliver power to the national grid at full capacity in the next 24 months.
Government recently confirmed that Medupi will be operational in two years:
Eskom describes the completion of Unit One as an investment that will serve generations of the people of South Africa and power the economy for at least the next half-century.
It says Unit One was first synchronised to the national grid on 27 August 2019 and reached the full load of 794 MW on 05 December 2019.
It also contributed intermittent power to the country’s electricity supply.
“The planned life of this power station is 50 years. Eskom applauds team Medupi and support teams for working tirelessly, for working to ensure that the unit is handed over for commercial operations as planned by the end of July. This is an investment that will serve generations of the people of South Africa,” says Eskom’s spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha.
But partner at Mining and Energy advisors, Ted Blom says Eskom has no reason to celebrate as more still needs to be done.
“They’re not being truthful, because firstly, they have to fix up the balance of the units, the five units that were brought up under the wrong design, that’s going to take a while, at least two years if not longer. The second part that Eskom is not telling the public is that they have not complied with the World Bank finance requirements, to fit scrubbers onto those chimneys, so at the moment, Medupi is one the biggest polluters in the world.”
There have been concerns about cost overruns associated with Medupi. Blom estimates that costs could go up to R300 billion. Eskom says the capital cost of the project is R122 billion so far. It expects to spend under R135 billion on completing the plant.
“The original quotation for Medupi was R34 billion, I saw it with my own eyes. After the first level of corruption, where chancellor house was involved and messing around of Eskom executives, the price went up from R34 billion to roughly R70 billion which the board approved. As far as I’m aware the total project will not be much short of R300 billion,” says Blom.
Eskom says it is yet to conclude technical solutions related to the boiler design defects on the balance of the plant. It says once these are completed in the next two years only then will Medupi reliably deliver power to the national grid at full capacity.