Kusile Power Station

Kusile power station, which is expected to become the world’s largest coal-fired power plant upon completion, is being constructed in Mpumalanga, South Africa. Kusile is the first South African power facility to incorporate wet flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) technology. It is the second coal-fired power facility being built by Eskom and will generate 4,800MW of power once fully operational.

“Kusile is the first South African power facility to incorporate FGD technology.”

The construction of the power plant began in August 2008 and is expected to be completed by 2018.

Eskom has insufficient funds to complete the project. It is, therefore, planning to sell some of its stake in order to meet the funding gap.
JP Morgan has been appointed to assist with the development of a funding plan. Credit Suisse is acting as the transaction advisor for the stake sale.

Kusile power station technology

The FGD technology being incorporated by the plant is used to extract oxides of sulphur (SOx) from the flue gases of the power plant, which burns fossil fuels. It will help in removing 90% of the sulphur oxide produced by the boilers. The technology is also an atmospheric emission abatement technology in line with current international practice.

In February 2011, the Cosira Group and Alstom S&E (Alstom) consortium was contracted to provide the FGD technology for all six boilers of the plant.

FGD is being implemented in Kusile in order to meet air quality standards, as the plant is based in a priority airshed. It utilises limestone as the raw material for desulphurisation and produces gypsum as a by-product.

The fossil fuel coal will be used to produce steam that drives the steam turbine and the connected electricity generators.

Power station financing

Funds to the tune of R31bn are being provided by French banks, including Calyon, BNP Paribas, Societe Generale, Natixis and CIC. BNP Paribas is serving as a documentation bank, facility agent and ECA agent.

The funds are provided through a fixed interest rate loan covered by COFACE, the French Export Credit Agency. The loan can be repaid over 12 years, after the commissioning of relevant units of the power plant.

In May 2011, Eskom received a R5.7bn ($805.6m) loan from Export Import Bank of the US.

Kusile power plant details

The 5,200ha site that hosts the plant is located between freeways N4 and N12 in Mpumalanga. It is situated west of the R545 and has the Kendal power station in its vicinity.

The land on which the plant is being constructed is on the farms, Hartbeesfontein and Klipfontein, and was earlier used for agriculture and cattle grazing.

The plant integrates six generating units, each with a capacity of 800MW. The first unit is scheduled to start commercial operations in 2014, while the last unit is expected to come online in 2018.

A $122.4m contract for the plant automation was awarded to Alstom in February 2010. Under the contract, the ALSPA Series 6 distributed control system (DCS) from Alstom will be installed in the power plant. The system will control all the plant’s equipment, including turbines, generators and other components.

The plant will comprise six STF100 steam turbines and six GIGATOP generators. The hydrogen-cooled generators will increase the efficiency of the power plant.

Eskom awarded a R31bn contract to acquire the boilers and turbines for the plant to Hitachi Power Africa and Alstom respectively in 2007. In 2008, a contract that involved the supply of generation transformers was awarded to Siemens.

Associated air-cooled condensers and turbine island auxiliary equipment along with six feedwater heating plants will also be installed in the plant.

Anglo Coal’s subsidiary, Anglo Inyosi Coal, will supply the necessary fuel to the Kusile power plant. About 17 million tons of coal will be supplied by Anglo Inyosi Coal for a period of 47 years. In addition, the fuel will also be supplied from New Largo reserve.

Power plant construction

The main civil works contract, worth R2.9bn, was awarded to Kusile Civil Works joint venture in 2008. Construction companies, including Stefanutti Stocks, Group 5, Basil Read and WBHO Construction, are part of the joint venture.

The plant’s concrete construction work mainly includes the construction of power station buildings and administrative buildings, including control, medical and security buildings. It also includes the construction of a high-voltage yard and roads.

“Kusile is the second coal-fired power facility being built by Eskom.”

The construction work related to the infrastructure of the plant, including water and wastewater treatment works, access roads and railway lines, will be carried out under the project.

The infrastructure facilities being constructed to aid the operations of the power plant include water supply pipelines, fuel and water storage facilities, limestone off-loading facilities, an ash disposal facility and a coal and ash conveyor system.

Bateman Engineering Group was contracted to carry out materials handling work at the plant. Scope of work includes construction of the overland and in plant conveyors, stockyards, civil works and electrical and instrumentation work. Bateman will also install stacking and reclaiming equipment.

Kusile power plant environmental programme

An environmental impact assessment programme was conducted in March 2006 and received the Record of Decision (ROD) in June 2007. The Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism however revised the ROD and issued environmental authorisation for the project in March 2008.