South Africa’s national power utility, Eskom, says it has brought back online the final generating unit of the Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme located on the border of Free State and KwaZulu-Natal provinces, the final unit to be synchronised.

In a statement here Sunday, Eskom said Unit 3 was previously synchronised to the national grid on March 6, 2016 and supported the grid until April 6, 2016 when an electrical incident occurred.

“After almost 500,000 man-hours of work without any safety incidents the team completed the repair and has synchronised the unit back onto the national grid,” said the power utility.

Synchronisation is the process whereby the generator in the unit is 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 national grid.

Ingula’s Unit 4 went into commercial operation on 10 June 2016 while Units 2 and 1 were been put into commercial operation on Aug 22, 2016 and Aug 30, 2016 respectively.

Ingula’s four units are located 350 metres underground in the world’s largest machine hall in mud-rock. In order to turn the more than 500-ton rotating mass of the generator rotor and turbine, water is released from Ingula’s upper dam, Bedford Dam, situated 460 metres higher and two kilometres away.

Water rushes down to the turbines at around 60 kilometres per hour with enough water passing through each turbine to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in six seconds. Rotating at 428 revolutions per minute, each unit will produce 333 megawatts (MW), for a total of 1,332 MW.

Upon full completion, Ingula will be Africa’s newest and largest pumped storage scheme and the 14th largest in the world. President Jacob Zuma visited the plant in July where he said progress made is evidence of the country’s democratic legacy that supports economic growth and development.


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