The Kusile Power Station Project, Mpumalanga, South Africa
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The Kusile Power Station Project, South Africa

The 4.8GW Kusile power station, which is expected to be one of the world’s largest coal-fired power plants upon completion, is being constructed by Eskom Holdings SOC, the state-run electricity public utility, in Mpumalanga, South Africa.

Plant Type

Coal-fired power plant

Location

Mpumalanga, South Africa

Number of Units

Six

Plant Capacity

4,800MW (4.8GW)

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The 4.8GW Kusile power station, which is expected to be one of the world’s largest coal-fired power plants upon completion, is being constructed by Eskom Holdings SOC, the state-run electricity public utility, in Mpumalanga, South Africa.

The plant adopts supercritical-pressure technologies for more efficient generation of power than standard coal-fired systems, resulting in a significant reduction in CO₂ emissions.

The construction of the power plant began in August 2008. Units 1 and 2 were synchronised to the national grid in March and July 2017, respectively. Unit 1 was brought into full commercial operation in August 2017.

The third unit was synchronised by March 2019. Units 2 and 3 started full commercial operations in October 2020 and March 2021, respectively. The total planned operational life of the power plant is 50 years. The plant will generate enough electricity to power 3.5 million South African households, upon the commissioning of all six units.

Eskom is running short of funds to complete the project and is, therefore, planning to sell some of its stake to meet the funding gap.

JP Morgan has been appointed to assist the development of a funding plan. Credit Suisse is acting as the transaction advisor for the stake sale.

Location

The 5,200ha site that hosts the plant is located between freeways N4 and N12 in Mpumalanga. It is situated west of the R545 and has the Kendal power station in its vicinity.

The land on which the plant is being constructed is on the farms Hartbeesfontein and Klipfontein, which was earlier used for agriculture and cattle grazing.

Kusile power station details and technology

Kusile power plant is designed to integrate six generating units, each with 800MW capacity. Kusile is the first South African power facility to incorporate state-of-the-art wet flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) technology.

The FGD technology is used to extract sulphur oxides (SOx) from the flue gases of the power plant, which burns fossil fuels. It will help in removing 90% of the sulphur oxide produced by the boilers. The technology is also an atmospheric emission abatement technology in line with current international practice.

FGD is being implemented in Kusile to meet air quality standards, as the plant is based in a priority airshed. It utilises limestone as the raw material for desulphurisation and produces gypsum as a by-product.

The power plant will comprise six STF100 steam turbines and six GIGATOP generators. The hydrogen-cooled generators will increase the efficiency of the power plant. Each supercritical tower boiler is approximately 115m high. The 300t 910MVA generator step-up transformer was put on its foundation in October 2014. An air-cooling system is used in the plant to conserve water.

The fossil fuel coal is used to produce the steam that drives the steam turbine and connected electricity generators. Associated air-cooled condensers supported by 60m-high concrete columns and turbine island auxiliary equipment, along with six feedwater heating plants, will also be installed in the plant.

Other associated infrastructure being developed for the power station include administrative buildings, coal stockyard, coal and ash conveyors, water-supply pipelines, water and wastewater treatment facilities, ash disposal systems, railway line, high-voltage yard, limestone offloading facilities, access roads and dams for water storage.

Power station financing

Funds of R31bn ($2.3bn) are being provided by French banks, including Calyon, BNP Paribas, Societe Generale, Natixis and CIC. BNP Paribas is serving as a documentation bank as well as facility and export credit agency (ECA) agent.

The funds are provided through a fixed interest rate loan covered by COFACE, the French ECA. The loan can be repaid over 12 years, after the commissioning of relevant units of the power plant.

In May 2011, Eskom received a R5.7bn ($805.6m) loan from Export Import Bank of the US.

As of early 2015, the estimated cost of the project excluding interest was R82bn ($6.04bn). Furthermore, it was estimated that the project would require a total of R118bn ($8.7bn) till completion.

Contractors involved

The main civil works contract, worth R2.9bn ($213m), was awarded to the Kusile Civil Works joint venture (JV) in 2008. Construction companies, including Stefanutti Stocks, Group 5, Basil Read and WBHO Construction, are part of the JV.

In 2007, Eskom awarded a R31bn ($2.3bn) contract to acquire the boilers for the plant to Hitachi Power Africa, now Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Americas, and the plant’s turbines to Alstom. In 2008, a contract that involved the supply of generation transformers was awarded to Siemens.

A $122.4m contract for the plant automation was awarded to Alstom in February 2010. Under the contract, the ALSPA Series 6 distributed control system (DCS) from Alstom is installed in the power plant. The system controls all the plant’s equipment, including turbines, generators and other components.

In February 2011, the Cosira Group and Alstom S&E (Alstom) consortium was contracted to provide the FGD technology for all six boilers of the plant.

Anglo Coal’s subsidiary, Anglo Inyosi Coal, was contracted to supply the necessary fuel to the Kusile power plant. About 17 million tons of coal will be supplied by Anglo Inyosi Coal for a period of 47 years. In addition, the fuel will be supplied from the New Largo reserve.

GE was contracted for engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of six turbine islands, air cooled condensers and FGD plant of Unit 1 in September 2017. Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems, the main boiler contractor, completed the delivery of the first supercritical-pressure boiler for the plant in the same month.

Bateman Engineering Group was contracted to carry out materials handling work at the plant. Scope of work includes construction of the overland and in plant conveyors, stockyards, civil works and electrical and instrumentation work. Bateman is also responsible for installing stacking and reclaiming equipment.

Black & Veatch had secured the contract to design the Kusile power station. As Eskom’s execution partner for the project, its services include planning, engineering and design, construction management, contracts management and claims and procurement management as well as health and safety management services.

Kusile power plant environmental programme

An environmental impact assessment programme was conducted in March 2006 and received the Record of Decision (ROD) in June 2007. The Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, however, revised the ROD and issued environmental authorisation for the project in March 2008.

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