9 October 2006
South African state electricity company Eskom plans to spend R97-billion over the next five years on building new power plants and refurbishing old ones.
Addressing the Johannesburg Press Club last Thursday, Eskom chief executive Thulani Gcabashe said the infrastructure development programme aimed to meet the country’s increasing demand for energy, and to contribute towards accelerating SA’s economic growth.
Gcabashe said, however, that Eskom needed to improve its capacity, as sourcing the required human capital remained a challenge for the utility.
“We have embarked on a skills development programme to recruit about 400 engineers needed for this plan to succeed,” Gcabashe said. “At present more than 200 hundred engineers have been hired and we are still looking at recruiting other engineers.”
Some of those to be recruited would be recent graduates trained by Eskom. These graduates would be mentored by senior Eskom engineers, Gcabashe said. “We have also recruited 37 South African engineers working in the United Kingdom; they will provide training and mentor these graduates.”
Eskom will spend about R10.8-billion on its capacity expansion programme in 2006/07.
Three power stations to re-open
As part of its infrastructure development programme, Eskom has launched a “return to service” project that will see the refurbishing and re-opening of three old power stations in Mpumalanga province with a combined nominal capacity of 38 000 MW.
The three power stations, at Camden near Ermelo, Grootvlei near Balfour and Komati near Middelburg, were mothballed in the late 1980s and 1990s because Eskom was generating more electricity than needed at the time.
“To date, Camden has over 3 000 contractors working on site, with over 50% being local residents from Ermelo and surrounding areas,” Gcabashe said.
Other projects on the go include building an Open Cycle Gas Turbine consisting of two sites in Mossel Bay and Atlantis in the Western Cape with a capacity of 1 027 MW at a cost of R3.5-billion.
The state-owned company generates 95% of South Africa’s electricity and more than 50% of the electricity consumed on the African continent.