May 11, 2020 / 1:03 PM / 19 days ago

UPDATE 1-South Africa's Eskom to fix design flaws at Medupi, Kusile coal plants

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JOHANNESBURG, May 11 (Reuters) - South African state utility Eskom plans to correct design defects throughout its mammoth Medupi and Kusile coal-fired power stations, it said on Monday, after completing modifications on one of the plants’ units.

Medupi and Kusile, which will be among the largest coal power stations in the world when complete, have been beset by delays and faults that have hobbled their electricity output.

They are a major reason why Eskom is choking under around 450 billion rand ($24.5 billion) of debt and has implemented nationwide power cuts that helped push the economy into recession before the COVID-19 crisis.

Eskom said in a statement that modifications at Medupi Unit 3 had gone smoothly, with the unit reaching its full generation capacity of around 800 megawatts (MW) after returning to service.

It said it would start making similar design changes, which are partly aimed at solving boiler problems, on Medupi’s other five units over the remainder of the year.

When the work on Medupi is complete, Eskom will fix flaws at its sister plant Kusile, Eskom spokesman Sikonathi Mantshantsha said, adding that Eskom was sharing the cost of the design modifications equally with contractors for now.

Once it has been established whose fault the design errors were, either Eskom or the contractors will refund the other party for the amount they have paid, he added. ($1 = 18.4086 rand) (Reporting by Alexander Winning, editing by Louise Heavens and David Evans)

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