Eskom board approves South Africa’s 1,500-MW Project Lima

The board of South African utility Eskom Holdings Ltd. has approved plans to develop the 1,500-MW Project Lima pumped-storage project in Mpumalanga Province.

The Eskom board of directors gave approval March 26 to the pumped-storage project, which is planned for the escarpment between South Africa’s Nebo Plateau and the Steelpoort River Valley. (HNN 3/3/08)

Project Lima’s environmental impact assessment has been completed, with the project receiving a positive environmental authorization from the Department of Environment and Tourism in October. Its feasibility study was completed in November 2000.

An Eskom spokeswoman said the utility is beginning pre-qualification for some contracts. Prospective bidders are required to use Eskom’s vendor registration process, usually published on Eskom’s Internet site, www.eskom.co.za.

Eskom expects to have site access by September to begin tunnel excavation. Full construction would start a year later, the spokeswoman said. Construction is expected to require 5.5 years.

Project environmental documents indicate Project Lima’s upper reservoir would be built at the top of the Thaba ya Sekhukune escarpment near the town of Sehlakwane. The lower reservoir would be within the Steelpoort River Valley and would be fed by a pipeline from De Hoop Dam. (HNN 3/14/08) The powerhouse is expected to house four 374-MW pump-turbines.

Additional action on 1,332-MW Ingula, 360-MW Gariep

Eskom already is carrying out tunnel excavation at the 1,332-MW Ingula pumped-storage project in the Little Drakensberg Mountains on the border between Free State and KwaZulu-Natal. (HNN 2/12/08) It plans to award contracts by July for Ingula’s main underground civil works and for both dams on two streams, Bramhoek Spruit and Bedford Spruit.

The Eskom board delayed action on a plan to upgrade the 360-MW Gariep hydroelectric project on the Orange River in the Eastern Cape. (HNN 3/3/08) Eskom’s spokeswoman said the plan was not canceled, but merely delayed for further information.

Eskom said it had planned to conduct generator refurbishments as normal maintenance at Gariep, which includes South Africa’s largest reservoir. However, it embarked on a feasibility study to identify requirements for a complete unit capacity upgrade. It found a complete upgrade would result in additional generation of 80 gigawatt-hours.

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