Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. said Hitachi Kaefer will test and repair about 9,000 faulty welds on a boiler at its Medupi power plant in South Africa, which will be the world’s fourth-largest coal-fired station when completed.
There are about 53,000 welds on each of six boilers at the planned 4,800-megawatt project and Eskom is awaiting forensic reports on the issue, the Johannesburg-based power utility said in presentation handed to reporters at the building site near Lephalale in Limpopo province.
Eskom, generator of about 95 percent of the nation’s power, is spending 500 billion rand ($56.1 billion) revamping old plants and building new ones to avoid a repeat of the January 2008 blackouts that halted mines owned by companies including Anglo American Plc five days and paralyzed factories. Shortages are at similar levels now to five years ago, threatening gold and platinum output and the nation’s 2013 growth forecast of 2.7 percent on concern that there will be insufficient power in the approaching winter season.
“The country can’t afford any delays,” Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba told reporters. The first of six 800-megawatt units at Medupi is due to to deliver power to the grid by the end of this year.
Hitachi and Alstom SA, a French power-equipment maker, gave Eskom assurance in writing that they won’t delay a so-called hot commissioning date in July, which would enable synchronization to the power grid by December, the utility said.
Delays will also affect the cost of the plant, Eskom said. Capital expenditure for the station is estimated at 91 billion rand, Chief Executive Officer Brian Dames told reporters at the Matimba power plant today. That compares with about 80 billion rand in 2008.
Work at Medupi stopped for almost two months this year and was plagued by stoppages in 2012. Gigaba said he has assurances from labor unions that the first unit will be finished by the end of the year.