Kusile Power Station has been exempted by the regulator from meeting strict anti-pollution rules for the next two years in a move that could add 2 100MW to the grid, Eskom announced on Sunday.
“The National Air Quality Officer (NAQO) has granted Eskom postponement to meet Minimum Emission Standards (MES) at Kusile Power Station from 5 June 2023 to 31 March 2025, subject to certain strict conditions,” Eskom said.
“The postponement application was necessitated by the failure of Kusile’s west stack on 23 October 2022.
“The failure limited the power station’s ability to operate three commissioned generating units (units 1, 2, and 3).”
Eskom said these units could each provide some 700MW, in total 2 100MW, to the national grid and potentially reduce load-shedding by two levels.
Eskom said its “short-term technical solution is to return the units through the construction of three temporary stacks that will bypass the Flue Gas Desulfurisation (FGD) plant while repairs to the affected stack are underway”.
The power utility said the operation of these three temporary stacks will enable the return of 2 100MW to the grid to reduce load-shedding.
The NAQO, in concurrence with the Nkangala District Municipality as the Atmospheric Emissions License authority, considered Eskom’s postponement application, the impacts on health and environment and balancing this against the negative impacts of electricity supply, determined that the application should be granted.
The application was granted under the following conditions:
- Eskom is required to take measures to mitigate harm caused by the exposure of sulphur dioxide to its employees and surrounding communities. This must include, at minimum, independent health screenings and the referral of people requiring healthcare to the appropriate public health facilities for treatment.
- Eskom is required to submit a detailed plan on the mitigation measures it intends to put in place within 21 days of receipt of the decision. This plan will be approved by the NAQO and Nkangala District Municipality.
- Eskom is required to submit quarterly progress reports on the implementation of the compliance road map and commitments made towards recommencing use of the Flue Gas Delsuphurisation.
- This decision must be reflected in Kusile Power Station AEL to be of any force and effect.
In addition to these conditions, Eskom said it also has to meet any requirements set by the Nkangala District Municipality.
“This decision may be reviewed by the NAQO with the concurrence of Nkangala District Municipality during the postponement period in line with the National Environmental Management Air Quality Act provisions,” the power utility said.