Eskom plans to modify the boilers at the Medupi and Kusile power plants in an attempt to reduce exhaust steam temperatures, City Press reports.
The project will see the 130-metre tall boilers extended by a further 12.5 metres – making them taller than both Standard Bank and Absa’s head offices in Johannesburg which currently stand at 140 metres.
The additional modifications at the power plant will also see each one of the 12 generation units at the plants taken off the grid for 75 days for the repairs, with each producing around 600 MW of power.
During this downtime, Eskom chief executive officer Andre De Ruyter said that engineers would also fix other problem areas at the plant, including the equipment used to handle coal.
The additional costs of the upgrades means that Medupi is expected to cost R145 billion once it is completed – R65 billion more than the original budget of R80 billion.
Kusile is now expected to cost R161 billion after it was originally budgeted to cost R100 billion.
Five years of load shedding
This new construction alongside other issues means it will take at least five years to get the power utility’s plants to a place where load-shedding is not needed, said energy expert Ted Blom.
Speaking to SABC News about the latest series of power cuts across the country, Blom said claims by Eskom and energy minister Gwede Mantashe that load-shedding will last for between 18-24 months are misguided.
He said the energy minister is not close enough to Eskom’s operations to know what is going on, and the new CEO André de Ruyter has not been there long enough to make accurate predictions.
“I have gone into the situation at Eskom in detail with an IMF (International Monetary Fund) subcontractor with vast experience,” he said.
“Our estimate is that it will take at least five years under the Eskom scenario of refurbishing the boilers.”