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Lethabo Power Station

Construction of Lethabo started in 1980. Extensive environmental studies were conducted in accordance with Eskom's Environmental policy. It was established that the rehabilitation programmes implemented as part of Eskom's normal operations would contribute considerably to the restoration and revaluation of the whole area.
The station:
The station comprises of six 618MW Production Units. A Production Unit consists of one boiler, a turbine and generator. Power is produced at 20kV and at 13.5kA and sent to a step-up transformer where the voltage is increased to 275kV for efficient transmission.
The first set of Lethabo Power Station's six generating units went into commercial operation in December 1985. The last of the generating sets were commissioned in December 1990. A unique aspect of Lethabo is the unusually low grade and quality of coal that is burnt in the power generation process. The coal burnt has an average calorific value of about 16 MJ/kg. Very few power stations can burn this quality of coal, with most boilers requiring coal fuel of values in excess of 20 MJ/kg. At full load, the power station consumes about 50,000 tons of fuel per day.
The ash content of the coal ranges between 35% and 42%, which means that the power station produces approximately 20,000 tons of ash per day. After mining operations, the open pit is filled with spoils and over burden, which was removed during mining. Ash is deposited onto this area to a level of 50 meters above ground level. The ash dumps (mountains) are covered with 350mm of fertile soil and revegitated, covered with grass.
During site clearing 350 hectares of Bluegum plantation had to be removed. 190,000 Bluegum trees were cleared over a period of five months. Removal of the trees saw a significant increase in the underground water table. Due to this,  a very sophisticated piling foundation system for all the major structures were required. The piles were installed in competent soil layers at depths of more than 25 meters, and the top 15 meters of each pile was isolated from the upper layers of heaving clays. In total, 11,000 piles were sunk and foundations were then constructed on these piles. A 750mm void was left under the foundations to allow for expansion and contraction of the underlying soils. At the time of construction, the piling contract at Lethabo was the largest contract of its kind in South Africa.
Lethabo Power Station is also termed a ZLED-station (Zero-Liquid-Effluent-Discharge). This means that the whole station is a closed system and no water from our processes are allowed to leave the power station premises. An extensive water recycling and cleaning desalination is in place.
Contact details:
Tel: (016) 457-5111
Where is Lethabo:
Between Vereeniging and Sasolburg in the Free State

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