Carol Paton Editor at Large

The original intention of the Medupi mega-power station was to alleviate SA’s tight electricity supply system, but due to cost and time overruns — as well as design and technical problems — it has fallen far beyond its schedule and budget. Neglected maintenance of Eskom's other plants has led to serial breakdowns. Load-shedding, which is implemented to stabilise the grid when demand exceeds supply, began on Sunday and is expected to last for at least the rest of the week. Medupi and Kusile, at 4,800MW each, are to be among the biggest coal-fired stations in the world. Here is the timeline of the disastrous Medupi project: • 2004: Medupi project is conceived. • 2007: First sod is turned. Medupi cost estimated to be R69.1bn (an earlier estimate of R24.9bn was for three units). • 2007: Eskom announces that Japanese conglomerate Hitachi (in partnership with ANC investment company Chancellor House) will build the boilers. French company Alstom is to install the control and instrumentatio...

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