Apr 05, 2013
Medupi is a tragedyBack
Construction|Engineering|Natal|Africa|Alstom|Diesel|Eskom|Fire|General Engineering|Hitachi|PROJECT|Steinmüller|System|Turbines|Westfordhouse|Africa|South Africa|United Kingdom|United States|Wales|Eskom Power Station|Medupi Power Station|Boiler Control Software|Kalk Bay|Power|Turbines|Diesel |Flash
© Reuse this
Okay, I made that all up. Let’s face it, if the British Conservative Party behaved in such a way, it would be a long time before they got into power again.
But, how about a true story: “The African National Congress (ANC) has announced that it has bought a 25% shareholding in Hitachi, South Africa. Subsequent to the purchase Hitachi announced that it had been awarded the boiler contract for the new Eskom power station to be located at Medupi. The ANC denies that it influenced the decision in any way. These are the first Eskom boilers supplied by Hitachi in RSA. The ANC estimates that its income from the deal will be £5-million. All previous Eskom boilers have been supplied by Steinmuller.”
The Medupi power station is a tragedy. It’s bad enough that the boiler contract award smells like a Kalk Bay fishing boat on a quiet day. But it has now been found that there a are a few thousand bad welds on the Hitachi boilers under construction. How many more of the boilers are badly made? Which brave soul will start one up the first time?
Further, Business Day reports that the performance bond of the French company, Alstom, has been called up by Eskom since the Alstom boiler control software has failed tests. Three times. Fail once, okay. But twice? Careless. Three times? Who will trust the fourth version?
I spoke to an ex-Eskom guy.
Oh, he said, he’d been at Medupi. Too corrupt for him, he said. Medupi is six months behind. If it’s not working in December, lights out.
To (hopefully) fix things, Eskom is sending their outgoing CFO, Paul O’Flaherty, to head up a team, including some UK project managers, to get the whole project on track.
Girls and guys, you have more chance of successfully turning a camel into a mechanical engineer. Try, do try. But come December, you have to have an alternative plan. It’s Dunkirk time and you’re going to have to rely on smaller alternatives.
My advice: get all the municipalities to make a list of the consumers in their areas which can generate from standby power to reduce load. In the Cape, there is about 300 MW of standby generation; in Gauteng, much more and KwaZulu-Natal also much more.
Get the municipalities to sign contracts with all those willing to synchronise and generate into the grid on demand. Then, when Medupi is not on line, get those contracts to be activated during a few peak hours each day, by text message or email.
Also, load-shed large consumers willing to be cut. This works as follows: when the grid is overloaded, the system frequency drops. When it reaches about 49 Hz, the consumer is tripped out. Compensation is paid in reduced electrical supply tariffs. This system was common in the early 1980s.
Still more things to do by way of a plan: buy some big gas turbines (this is bit of a misnomer as these don’t actually run on gas – they run on gasified fuel, such as diesel or heavy fuel oil. You can get them second hand by the dozen. Put them together as standby plant.
Still more: get those municipalities that have gas turbines that are not operational to fix them, such as the Cape Town Roggebaai turbines.
Finally. If Eskom hopes to get the Kusile power station up and running, it should do itself a favour. Get the Germans to build the boilers and boiler controls, fire the French and don’t have the ruling party as a shareholding subcontractor.
Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Terry Mackenzie-Hoy News
Updated 5 minutes ago Countries across Asia are quietly reaching deals to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Mozambique, which could transform its economy and give it a front-row seat in tapping rising global gas demand. The unannounced agreements, five in total, show how war-scarred...
Updated 57 minutes ago One tiny Australian wasp is killing another tiny Australian wasp in South Africa’s commercial forests – and it is a good thing. Leptocybe invasa, the bad guy in this story, was first spotted in Eucalyptus trees outside its native Australia in 2000, in Israel, says...
Updated 58 minutes ago Following four months of improvements, the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (Sacci’s) Copper Theft Barometer increased to R13-milllion in September, up from R12-million the month before. This was the fourth monthly increase in the “relatively...
Recent Research Reports
Defence 2014: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Defence 2014 report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key participants in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial multibillion-rand...
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
This Week's Magazine
In the next 20 years, it was expected that, in Africa, more people would live in cities and towns than in rural areas, United Nations Habitat executive director Dr Aisa Kirabo Kacyira said at the Human Settlements Indaba that took place earlier this month in...
Tough-talking Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has committed government to building 1.5-million low-cost houses over the next five years, telling the Human Settlements Indaba in Johannesburg on Wednesday that the State would achieve this target through the...
Over the past 20 years there has been persistent concern about deindustrialisation in South Africa, as well as the fact that locally produced manufactured products have been increasingly displaced by imports.
Financial agreement for Ghanian independent power producer (IPP) Cenpower Generation Company’s $900-million, 350 MW combined-cycle gas-turbine power plant was finalised earlier this month, paving the way for the project’s construction to begin before 2015 in Tema,...
The revenue implications for South Africa of ‘base erosion and profit shifting’ by corporate taxpayers are firmly in the crosshairs of the Davis Tax Committee (DTC) and Judge Dennis Davis hinted last week that recommendations were being considered to “detect and...