PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma will launch Unit 4 of the Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme on Wednesday, marking a key milestone towards the full commercial operation of the entire hydroelectric facility ahead of the scheduled deadline of May 2017.

Ingula’s Unit 4 came into commercial operation on June 10, six months ahead of schedule. It has been consistently adding 333MW into the national grid to ensure security of supply. It is the first of Ingula’s four units to come into commercial operation. The remaining three units have also been synchronised to the national grid and are on track for commercial operation within the first half of 2017.

Once completed, all four units of the Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme will produce a total of 1,332MW.

The launch of Unit 4 and the synchronisation of the three units of Ingula is a critical milestone in Eskom’s effort to build new generating capacity to meet SA’s rising electricity demand. Once completed in the next five years, our capacity-expansion programme, which is the largest in the company’s history, will increase our generation capacity by 17,384MW, transmission lines by 9,756km and substation capacity by 42,470MVA. This will enable us to provide security of power supply to South African homes and businesses, powering economic expansion and extending electricity to millions of households who currently rely on other fuel sources for domestic cooking and heating.

We would like to congratulate Business Day deputy editor Carol Paton for finally realising that besides nuclear energy and coal, gas is another viable option for baseload capacity (Expect Molefe to sell us the nuke line, July 26). It is for this reason that Eskom is converting both the Ankerlig and Gourikwa open-cycle gas turbines to have the capability of using both gas and diesel.

What we don’t understand is her irrational fear of nuclear.

Besides clinging to the default position of the initial high costs of nuclear energy, Paton fails to put forward a cogent technical argument about why we shouldn’t consider nuclear as an option.

She also says that after less than five months in the job, Eskom group CE Brian Molefe “made the startling and completely untrue statement that Eskom’s plant performance had improved vastly”.

The five months referred to must have been the period around August 2015. Is it, therefore, just a coincidence that load shedding stopped from August 9 2015?

Molefe made these statements from his vantage position as CE of Eskom; one wonders what vantage position Paton was writing from. Molefe said that, through rigorous maintenance, we were able to add more than 3,700MW into the grid, a move that was critical in pulling us through this winter. Does Paton think this is a lie? Why?

Perhaps she should stick to her profession of obtaining leaked classified documents and leave Molefe to run Eskom — especially during this week’s cold spell.

Chose Choeu
Eskom divisional executive of corporate affairs