Water, Sewage & Effluent January-February 2017 - Page 19

The 1 332MW power station was initially supposed to have become fully operational in 2013 .
The synchronisation process entails the generator in the unit being electrically connected to the national power grid in such a way that its power is perfectly aligned with all the other generators to generate and deliver electricity into the country ’ s power grid .
Expanding capacity
Ingula ’ s Unit 4 went into commercial operation on 10 June 2016 , while Units 2 and 1 were put into commercial operation on 22 and 30 August 2016 , respectively . The four units are located 350m underground in the world ’ s largest machine hall in mudrock .
The Ingula hydropower station forms part of Eskom ’ s capacity expansion programme , along with the Kusile and Medupi coal-fired power stations , which are expected to become fully commercially operative in 2018 .
The power utility has previously stressed that it remains committed to bringing new capacity online , with 9 104MW to be commissioned over the next six years .
This comes as Eskom is under increasing pressure to up its electricity generation capacity , with latest figures showing that the fundamentals of the business are not in a healthy state . The state-owned entity ’ s electricity output has been falling every year for almost a decade .
A recent report released by Stats SA shows that Eskom produced and sold 171 186 gigawatt hours ( GWh ) of power in the nine months ended September — against 173 689GWh in the first nine months of 2015 . Furthermore , the Stats SA numbers ( based on Eskom data ) show its production has decreased every year since 2007 , when it hit 241 170GWh . For all of last year , Eskom generated 230 000GWh .
The Ingula pumped-storage project is located on the Great Escarpment geological formation in the Little Drakensberg range and straddles the border of the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal provinces .
According to Eskom , to build a pumped storage scheme requires a specific combination of factors to be just right , including the right geology , enough available water , and two sites to build dams close enough together , but with at least 400m difference in altitude .
The scheme also needs to be close to the national grid and existing infrastructure . The utility started looking for such sites in the 1980s . Initially , more than 90 potential sites were investigated , resulting in the shortlisting of three . The best site was selected north-east of Van Reenen ’ s Pass , spanning the escarpment of the Little Drakensberg , and straddling the provincial boundary of the Free State and KwaZulu- Natal .
This is also the continental watershed between the Vaal River catchment , flowing into the Atlantic Ocean , and the Tugela River catchment , flowing into the Indian Ocean .
The pumped storage scheme consists of an upper and a lower dam , each capable of holding more than 20-million cubic metres networking tech news environment industry infrastructure municipalities
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