Nica Richards
Deputy online news editor
2 minute read
9 Aug 2021
11:05 am

Another setback for Medupi plant after unit explodes

Nica Richards

It is not yet known what impact this will have on the national grid, but Eskom said any developments would be communicated.

Medupi power station. Picture: Gallo Images / Mail & Guardian / Madelene Cronjé

Just one week ago, power utility Eskom declared in a media statement that the contentious Medupi coal-fired power plant in Limpopo had finally reached commercial operation status. 

This after 14 years of pairs and billions of rands.

The plan was for the plant to be handed over to the generation division, after which it would pump 4,764MW of electricity into the country’s embattled power grid. 

ALSO READ: Eskom not honest about Medupi power plant, claims DA

This would only happen after implementation of technical solutions to boiler design defects, which were said to be implemented over the next two years. 

But Medupi has once again experienced another setback, after news broke on Monday morning that the plant experienced an explosion at its unit 4 generator on Saturday night. 

Eskom’s Daniel Mashigo said in a circulated WhatsApp message that seven workers were being treated for “possible injuries and treated shock”. 

It was later confirmed that no workers were injured, but that seven were being treated for shock.

It is not yet known what impact this will have on the national grid, but Eskom said any developments would be communicated.

ALSO READ: Medupi: ‘Paper milestone’ doesn’t address cost, tech, environmental failures

Due to the explosion, all work on unit 4 has been suspended until an investigation into reasons for the explosion is completed. 

“We suspect the explosion resulted in a disturbance which caused [unit 5] to trip. [Unit] 5 trip is under invesigtation before a decision on return to service is made.” 

In addition to being suspended, unit 4 was earlier declared “a no-go area” and is in the process of being barricaded. 

Medupi and resident engineers waited on site for the fire chief to give them the go-ahead to inspect and assess the damage. 

The area has since been secured and cleared by the fire chief, and investigations and inspections to determine the cause of the incident and the extent of the damage are underway.

When Medupi is completed, it will be the world’s fourth largest coal-fired plant, and the largest dry-cooled power station in the world.