All Units in Commercial Operation at 1,332-MW Ingula Pumped Storage Project in South Africa

After completing repairs suffered on April 6, 2016, during its optimization process, Unit 3 of South Africa-based Eskom Holdings Ltd.’s 1,332-MW Ingula pumped storage hydropower project has been brought into commercial operation, according to an Eskom announcement on Jan. 30.

All four units at the plant are now in commercial operation.

Eskom’s Interim Group Chief Executive, Matshela Koko, said, “The commercial operation of Unit 3 completes the Ingula pumped storage scheme project. This will further strengthen security of power supply to South African homes and businesses. I am thrilled that we are on track to deliver all New Build projects on line timeously, this achievement would not have been possible without the hard working team at Ingula and strong executive leadership in Eskom.”

The other three units each began commercial operation in 2016 on the following dates: Unit 1 on Aug. 30, Unit 2 on Aug. 22, and Unit 4 was the first unit to begin commercial operation on June 10.

The facility is located on the Great Escarpment geological formation in the Little Drakensberg range and it straddles the border of the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal provinces in South Africa.

Construction of the US$3.5 billion facility began in 2006 and according to Eskom, Ingula is Africa’s newest and largest pumped storage scheme and the 14th-largest pumped storage scheme in the world.

The scheme utilizes the following:

  • The upper Bedford Dam, a 39-m-tall concrete-face rock-fill dam that impounds Bedford Stream, a tributary of the Wilge River, creating Bedford Reservoir. The reservoir has 22,400,000 m3 of water storage capacity, of which 19,200,000 m3 can be used for power generation;
  • The lower Bramhoek Dam, a 41-m-tall roller-compacted concrete gravity dam that impounds Bramhoek stream, a tributary of the Klip River, creating Bramhoek Reservoir. The reservoir has 26.3 million m3 of water storage capacity, of which 21.9 million m3 can be pumped up to the upper reservoir;
  • A 1.2-km-long headrace tunnel from the upper reservoir to the powerhouse that has a hydraulic head of 480 m;
  • A powerhouse located 350 m below ground, about 460 m lower-than and 2 km away from the upper reservoir, containing four 333 MW reversible Francis pump-turbines; and
  • Water from the power station is discharged down a 2.5-km-long tailrace tunnel to the lower reservoir.

In March 2007, Eskom renamed what was then the 1,333-MW Braamhoek pumped-storage project, to Ingula. The name Ingula alludes to the creamy contents at the top of the milk calabash or gourd, an Eskom statement said.

This article was originally published by and was republished with permission.

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