Construction – Medupi Unit 6 Pressure Test to Start

EngineeringNews reports that Hitachi Power Africa has confirmed that the hydrostatic pressure test of the Medupi power station’s Unit 6 boiler pressure parts should begin within the coming two months.

CEO Johannes Musel told EngineeringNews that the test will signal the start of the “cold commissioning” phase of the power station’s initial production unit, which Eskom indicated should be producing electricity by the second half of the 2013.

The schedule has been pushed back by more than a year, owing to construction delays experienced in the boiler area. These delays have been attributed to structural steelwork design, manufacturing, logistics and construction problems.

The Integrated Resource Plan 2010-2030 was assuming the introduction of the first Medupi capacity during the first half of 2013, but Eskom has indicated that the unit is only likely to be introduced during the second half of 2013.

In a response to a Parliamentary question relating to Medupi and released on Wednesday, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said significant efforts have been made by Eskom, Hitachi Power Africa, as well as Hitachi operations in Europe and Japan to resolve problems and that the project schedule remains under constant review.

It is currently anticipated that the R120-billion, six-unit power station, which is being developed near Lephalale, in the Limpopo province, will be fully ramped up to its nameplate capacity of 4,764 MW during Eskom’s 2017/18 financial year.

Musel says the construction of the unit’s boiler pressure components, which are critical to the production of the steam needed to drive the turbine and electric generator, is nearly complete and that the focus is shifting towards the commissioning of the plant.

The first phase of commissioning is the cold commissioning phase in which no combustion takes place in the furnaces and no electrical drives are energised,” Musel explains, adding that any problems encountered during this phase will be fixed in line with schedules agreed with Eskom.

Following the hydrostatic pressure test the next milestone will involve chemical cleaning, which takes place ahead of “hot commissioning” and the eventual ramp up of the unit.