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Ingula’s Unit 4 goes into Commercial Operation
Monday, 13 June 2016: Eskom is progressing well with the maintenance of its power generating plant whilst supplying the country’s electricity needs. No load shedding is anticipated today.
Eskom’s Group Capital Division handed over Ingula’s first unit (Unit 4) to its Generation Division for commercial operation at 18:00 on Friday, 10 June 2016. This means an additional 333MW being added to the grid and thereby ensuring further security of supply.
Commercial operation is when the construction and optimisation of the unit is complete and the operator, Eskom’s Generation division in this case, takes over the plant and runs it on a commercial basis, i.e. supplying power into the National Grid. It is the first of four units to commercially support the National Grid ahead of schedule, powering South Africa into the future.
Unit 4 was synchronized to the National Grid on 25 March 2016 and has been undergoing optimisation whilst supporting the National Grid.
“This moment in time is the culmination of many years and countless hours of work, and that are immensely proud and conscious of the significance of this Ingula Team’s achievement.  Through this effort, Eskom’s New Build Program is on track to deliver the much need capacity that South Africans require to grow the economy to ensure a better life for all,” Says Abram Masango, Eskom’s Group Executive for Group Capital.
The first sod of earth at the Ingula Pumped storage scheme site was turned in 2006 starting a decade-long construction project, all leading to a significant achievement this week.  The Ingula project site spans the great divide over KwaZulu Natal and the Free State Provinces, separated by the Little Drakensberg mountain range.
Optimisation is a process whereby, after synchronisation certain tests need to be conducted to ensure that the unit performs as per design specifications. All four of Ingula’s units are scheduled for commercial operation in 2017.  Thanks to the hard work and drive of the Ingula Team, Unit 4 was brought forward ahead of the 2017 schedule.
Ingula’s four units are located 350 metres underground in the world’s largest machine hall in mud-rock. 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 m higher and two kilometres away. Water flows at high speeds down to the turbines at around 60km 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 333MW, a total for the station of 1 332MW.  On completion of all 4 units, Ingula will be part of Eskom’s Peaking fleet of power stations.  It can respond to demand increases on the National Grid within two-and-a-half minutes.
Upon completion Ingula will be Africa’s newest and largest pumped storage scheme and the 19th largest in the world.
Ingula unit 3 is currently under repair based on an incident that was experienced during the optimization process, post synchronisation.  This unit was synchronised to the National Grid on 6 March 2016 and supported the Grid until 6 April 2016 when the incident occurred.  Ingula unit 2 was synchronized to the National Grid on 22 May 2016 and is under optimisation.  Ingula unit 1 is still under construction.  Ingula units 3, 2 and 1 are on track for commercial operation in 2017. 
We will continue to provide regular updates on the state of the power system through various media platforms.