Ipsa to double power generation

22 September 2008

Independent power producer Independent Power Southern Africa (Ipsa) is to double the generating capacity of the coal-fired power plant it is developing in the Eastern Cape province, from 500 megawatts to 1 000 megawatts, by the addition of new steam turbine units.

According to a statement by Ipsa earlier this month, the company has been developing a mine-mouth power plant at the Indwe-based mine, which controlled by Elitheni Coal.

However, Elitheni’s controlling shareholder, AIM-listed Strategic Natural Resources, announced an increase in the mine’s proven and inferred coal reserves and also commenced commercial operations by the start of the month.

As a result, Ipsa and Strategic Natural Resources have agreed new terms to increase the scale of the power plant, and to transport coal from the mine to other parts of the Eastern Cape.

Proven technology

In order to accelerate the construction of its initial coal-fired capacity, Ipsa is focusing on the installation of circulating fluidised bed boilers of around 75 megawatts each.

“These imported boilers, which are of proven technology and manufactured to standards accepted in South Africa, have a shorter delivery and installation time, around two years to commissioning, compared with the four- to five-year lead time of the large-scale boilers favoured by Eskom and international developers,” Ipsa said.

Faster boiler delivery times and an ability to source matching smaller steam turbines means that Ipsa is able to cut development time at Indwe and other locations around the Eastern Cape, so that the first generating units are commissioned by 2010.

Competitive advantage

Ipsa also plans to develop between 250 and 300 megawatts of power at two different sites, while a second phase includes a further 400 megawatt expansion to the Indwe plant and at least 300 megawatts for a plant to be built near East London – where no significant on-grid capacity exists.

Ipsa already owns and operates a gas-fired plant in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal, which was the first independent power plant in South Africa, and is also developing 1 600 megawatts of combined cycle gas turbine generation capacity at the Coega Industrial Development Zone near Port Elizabeth.

“The board believes that there is a significant competitive advantage for Ipsa in meeting South Africa’s chronic shortage of generation capacity by bringing significant additional capacity into service in South Africa in the shortest possible time-frame to help alleviate the current power crisis in the region,” the company said.

SAinfo reporter

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