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Ingula: Powering South Africa’s economy
Wednesday, 08 March 2017: In January 2017 Eskom announced that the last and final generating unit of the Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme - unit 3, came into commercial operation adding an extra 333MW into the national electricity grid. This means that together with unit 1, 2 and 4 that were already in commercial operation from the mid to latter part of 2016, Eskom succeeded in adding a total of 1332MW to the grid, thereby powering the South African nation and its economy. 
 
The Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme is situated on the continental watershed known as the Klein Drakensberg, dividing the Vaal catchments which flows into the Atlantic Ocean and the Tugela Catchments flowing into the Indian Ocean.
 
“The site is situated across two provincial boundaries namely the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal Provinces. The natural setting of the Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme results in a very high biodiversity with ecosystems including the natural Highveld grasslands, high altitude Wilge River Wetlands and the high altitude forests that can be seen in the valleys formed by the escarpment. Eskom and its partners envisioned sustainable conservation of the natural setting of Ingula by declaring the site as a nature reserve. For Eskom, the conservation and protection of the environment is seen as the second operational task at Ingula, other than producing electricity,” said Group Executive for Group Capital Abram Masango.
 
“Over the years, Eskom has utilised the new build projects to support government’s aspirations of improving the lives of its citizens especially at local government levelAt least more than 2000 of the Ingula labour force were recruited from local communities and municipalities in the KwaZulu-Natal and Free State provinces. At peak there were more than 4000 workers on site.  Ingula has spent R6.27 billion towards black women-owned enterprises, black youth-owned enterprises and small and medium enterprises, exceeding many of the national targets set in these categories,” adds Masango.
 
Eskom has constructed Ingula’s four units (333MW each) which are located 350 metres underground in the world’s largest machine hall in mud-rock. To turn more than 500 ton rotating mass of the Generator Rotor and Turbine, water is released from Ingula’s upper dam, Bedford Dam, situated 460 metres higher and two kilometers away. At peak flow the equivalent volume of eight Olympic-size swimming pools passes through the turbines every minute.  Ingula can respond to demand increases on the National Grid within two-and-a-half minutes.  It is Africa’s newest and largest (in terms of capacity) pumped storage scheme and the 14th largest (in terms of capacity) in the world.
 
 
 
Caption: Official opening of Ingula Unit 4: by his Excellency President Jacob Zuma and Minister Lynne Brown in July 2016.
 
In October 2016, the Ingula project won two prestigious awards during the Annual South African Institute of Civil Engineering (SAICE) and South African Forum of Civil Engineering Contractors (SAFCEC) awards ceremonies. The first award was for the Most Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award in the Technical Excellence Projects Category and the second one was the Technical Excellence Achievement Award.
 
Below is the ‘then and now’ graphic of the evolution of the project and achievements (high resolution photographs available).
 
 










 
Eskom has also made public its commitment to social responsibilities through development of communities surrounding its new build sites.  “In the past two years, Ingula has injected R20 million towards the upgrading of local schools and the provision of extra classrooms, 75 mobile science laboratories, and extra tuition for 400 grade 12 learners in maths, science and accounting. Other similar social responsibility investments were made in the areas of health and small business development,” adds Masango.
 
Recently, Eskom in partnership with CMI Joint Venture (CMI JV is a joint venture comprising CMC di Ravenna, PG Mavundla and Impregilo) has pledged a R50 million donation towards the construction of a new neonatal ward and much-needed general refurbishments at the Ladysmith Regional Hospital.  This initiative will benefit the community of the uThukela district municipality and its major towns of Ladysmith, Estcourt and Bergville.
 
 
 
Caption: Eskom, CMI JV, Alfred Duma municipality Mayor, uThukela district municipality speaker and Hospital Management seen together after taking the tour of the hospital and pledged the R50 million for upgrades at the Hospital.
 
“Eskom is proud of the work that the Ingula project has achieved since inception. We are grateful to all our stakeholders, especially our host municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal and Free State and communities, for working and partnering with us to deliver the much-needed megawatts into the national grid. Together we have achieved more and triumphed despite all challenges,” Masango said.   
 
ENDS