South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma inaugurated the new unit of a massive new coal-fired power plant situated north of Johannesburg recently. The expansion is well-needed as ongoing electricity woes have undermined economic growth, disrupting manufacturing and mining sectors especially hard.
The Medupi power station is to produce 4,800MW of electricity by 2019, when it is expected to be operating at full capacity, reported AFP.
This unit, the first of six to be completed, was synchronized with the national grid in March this year, and has been undergoing tests since then.
Construction on the project began in 2007 and was scheduled for completion five years later. Yet delays meant that the plant, which South African authorities call the country’s largest coal-fired station, will only be fully operational some seven years late, according to South African’s website Citizen.
“Today we open an important and exciting chapter in our country’s energy history,” Zuma said, “Shortage of energy is a serious impediment to economic growth,” he added.
South Africa has suffered through rolling blackouts, known as load shedding, as the state-owned utility Eskom has sought to ease pressure on its stable of ageing and poorly-maintained power stations.