Unit 6 of State-owned power utility Eskom’s Medupi power station, in Lephalale, Limpopo, reached a critical milestone last month when it produced and delivered power for the first time.
“The technical term is first synchronisation or ‘first synch’, which comprises the tie-in of the power station to the national grid,” explains corporate law firm Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group (BGAG) construction head Rob Morson.
Unit 6, the first of six units to come on line at Medupi, is capable of delivering about 800 MW of power to South Africa’s electrical grid. For first synch, Eskom will operate the unit at a much lower output to test grid control and protection systems. This is done by controlling and tripping the unit at low production levels to avoid affecting the stability of the national grid. Once these tests are completed, Eskom will ramp up the unit to full load.
BGAG has, since 2006, represented Eskom in connection with all construction-related aspects of its new 4 800 MW, six-unit coal-fired Medupi power station.
This flagship energy project is ranked as one of the largest dry-cooled power stations under construction worldwide – another being Eskom’s Kusile power station, in Mpumalanga, which BGAG also advises on.
BGAG has played, and continues to play, an important role on this key national project.
“Aside from the media attention and public’s personal frustrations with load-shedding, we have every reason to be very proud South Africans. This is the first major step towards restoring 100% stability to South Africa’s power supply. It is still a long road but we all need to know and appreciate that we are well on that road and not waiting for it to magically appear before us.
“BGAG and, in particular, [our] construction, corporate and dispute resolution, regulatory, labour, banking and finance teams, are very proud to play a role as lead advisers to Eskom,” says Morson.
The Medupi project is being constructed under multiple works contracts on an owner-managed basis. BGAG’s involvement spans the procurement and execution stages of the various works packages, comprising about 38 construction contracts. The firm’s responsibility encompasses the full spectrum of advice on the construction of the project.