Eskom working on two new pumped storage power projects

LADYSMITH, SOUTH AFRICA - State-owned power utility Eskom has awarded Voith Siemens Hydro Power Generation, a joint venture of Voith and Siemens, a contract to equip the Ingula pumped-storage power project being built on the escarpment of the Drakensberg mountain range near Ladysmith in the eastern part of the country.

A $200 million investment will cover all electromechanical equipment with four 342-megawatt (MW) motor generators and the complete automation and control system. The project is scheduled to go into operation in 2013. The power house will feed through a 2-kilometer headrace tunnel from the upper reservoir on the Bedford Stream, and a similar length tunnel will be built for the tailrace that will lead water into a lower reservoir near the Braamhoek River.

Grinaker-LTA began building 67 kilometers of road works in January, and Murray & Roberts completed a 1.2-kilometer tunnel in 2007. A South African-Italian consortium, CMC Mavundla, is working on the main access tunnel contract for completion in 2009.

B&E Quanza has the contract for quarrying and sub-base material and Afriscan Holdings has been contracted for water supply, sewage treatment, small access roads and building temporary Eskom offices. During the peak construction period, 2,500 people will be on-site.

The German and Japanese operating units of Voith Siemens Hydro will be joint partners in the project to design and manufacture the equipment. The motor generators will be supplied from Kawasaki in Japan and the pump-turbines from Heidenheim.

The 1,360-MW Ingula project, previously known as Braamhoek, will help to stabilize the security of power supplies on the national grid by using excess power generated during low demand periods to pump water to the upper reservoir to be released to meet demand for generation in peak demand periods.

The total project will take an investment of more than $1 billion, covering the construction of the two dams, underground water tunnels, an underground power house and the infrastructure of access roads and tunnels.

Eskom has also received the necessary permits and environmental approvals for another pumped storage scheme, Project Lima, in the country's northern province of Limpopo. The 1,500-MW hydropower station is planned for completion in 2014. Voith Siemens Hydro supplied the two 200-MW turbines for South Africa's first pumped storage scheme at Palmiet near Cape Town, which was commissioned in 1983.


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