Palapye : Construction of the 600 mw Morupule B phase 1 power station has begun with the first output expected in January 2012.
Speaking at the official ground breaking ceremony of the power plant on Friday, Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Ponatshego Kedikilwe said the project, which he hopes contractor China National Electric Equipment Corporation (CNEEC) will finish with no time or cost over runs, is a medium term solution to the country power supply-demand mismatch.
Currently, the country which imports 80 percent of its power needs, only has one power station, the existing Morupule power station which was commissioned 24 years ago and produces only 132MW.
"Approximately 80 percent of the country's power requirements are being met through imports and the region has run out of surplus generating capacity. With the country endowed with an estimated 200 billion tonnes of coal reserves and with no new base load power station due for commissioning in the next five years, in the Southern African Power Pool(SAPP), the government was left with no choice but to proceed with the development of this coal fired power station," he said.
The Morupule B power station, which is executed on an Engineering-procurement-construction(EPC)/ Turnkey basis, entails the engineering design, manufacturing, procurement, construction and commissioning of 4 of 1500 MW units. The first 150MW unit is expected to be in service by January 2012, and the last unit is expected to be in service by October 2012.
Despite the contract for Morupule having been effected in early 2009, nothing has been done on the ground except a staff housing compound that is still under construction.
However, General Manager for CNECC Zhao Senlin is still confident that the project will be delivered on time.
"CNECC already has mobilised construction equipment and machinery such as a 250-tonne tower crane, 60-tonne mobile crane, high technology test equipment in order to implement the work qualified and complete the project on time.
"We also believe this project is and will be the biggest and best construction site in Southern African" said Zhao. CNECC which is a state owned company will import 1800 Chinese staff members for the project while 600 locals will also be employed. Zhao says every effort will be made to increase the number of citizens while establishing a programme of training and skills transfer.
During the initial operational phase of about 2 years, it is envisaged that the station will be operated under the Operational and Maintenance contract. During this period, the permanent citizen workforce of about 300 people are to be trained to operate the station into the future. "Advertisement for the first 40 citizen staff has been placed and applications are currently being screened and short- listed," said Kedikilwe.