South Africa


Eskom confirms explosion at Medupi days after station comes onstream, investigations under way

Eskom confirms explosion at Medupi days after station comes onstream, investigations under way
A general view of Medupi Power Station on January 1, 2015. (Photo: Gallo Images / Mail & Guardian / Madelene Cronjé)

Eskom has confirmed that Medupi Power Station experienced an explosion on the unit 4 generator on Sunday night.  

An explosion has rocked Medupi Power Station in Lephalale less than a week after Eskom announced that the station – the biggest dry-cooled and most expensive power station in the world – had attained commercial operation status.

On Monday morning, Eskom in a statement confirmed that the coal-fired power plant “experienced an explosion on the Unit 4 generator at approximately 22h50 on 8 August. The incident is suspected to have resulted in Unit 5 tripping.”

“No injuries have been reported and all employees and contractors have been accounted for. Emergency services attended to seven colleagues requiring treatment for shock.”

CONFIRMED: Explosion on Medupi Unit 4 at about 10.50 pm last night. apparently occurred while Unit 4 was on an outage and the hydrogen n the generator being purged of hydrogen. Unit 5 tripped as well, but apparently no damage and likely to be up in due course.

The statement continued that “Unit 4 was on a short-term outage (since 6 August) when the incident occurred, and all work on the unit was suspended with immediate effect.” 

“The area was secured and once it has been cleared by the fire chief and resident engineers; inspections and assessments will begin to determine the cause of the incident and extent of the damage caused.”

“Preparation for the return to service of Medupi Unit 5 is currently in progress. Investigations are under way into the cause of the incident and Eskom will update the public on developments, as well as to what extent this unfortunate incident will impact the national electricity grid,” said Eskom.

Energy expert, Chris Yelland in an interview with eNCA said “they were busy purging the generator of hydrogen which is used as a coolant in the generator and they were purging the hydrogen in preparation for doing work on the generator when this explosion occurred.” 

Yelland continued to explain that the combined losses to generation capacity as a result of the incident are equivalent to 1,440 megawatts. “That’s a significant amount of power to be taken out of service… so we’ll probably see the effects tomorrow. I’m not saying that there is going to be load-shedding tomorrow but certainly we will have 1,440 megawatts less of power capacity than we would have had otherwise and that is a significant amount.” DM


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