South Africa utility expected to proceed with 1,500-MW Project Lima

With government approvals in hand, South African utility Eskom Holdings Ltd. is expected this month to approve plans to develop the 1,500-MW Project Lima pumped-storage project in Mpumalanga Province.

Eskom has been planning construction of the project along the escarpment between South Africa’s Nebo Plateau and the Steelpoort River Valley.

The utility said its board of directors is expected to approve the pumped-storage project in March.

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

Eskom said, if all goes as planned, tendering for construction of Project Lima could begin at the end of 2008. Construction would require about 5.5 years, it said.

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. The powerhouse is expected to house four 374-MW pump-turbines.

Eskom, which recently has had difficulty keeping up with electricity demand, has been looking at several options to increase generation. It recently said it is finalizing major construction and equipment contracts for 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)

The utility reported it also is planning to upgrade the 360-MW Gariep hydroelectric project on the Orange River in the Eastern Cape. (HNN 10/15/07) Eskom said the Gariep plan was forwarded to its board of directors in November.

Eskom said it had planned to conduct generator refurbishments as normal maintenance at Gariep. 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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