Another 800 megawatts (MW) of electricity is being added to South Africa’s national grid, after the first unit of the Kusile coal-fired power station in northern Mpumalanga Province was connected to the national grid.

South African electricity provider Eskom said in a statement here Tuesday that the connection on Monday night move would add an extra 800 MW to the grid to “further stabilise the power system to support South Africa’s economic growth”.

Kusile, a green-field, coal-fired power plant located near the Kendal Power Station in Mpumalanga, will comprise a total of six units, each rated at 800 MW installed capacity, and is due for completion in 2022.

The plant is the first in Africa to implement clean fuel technology such as flue-gas desulphurisation, a state-of-the-art technology to remove oxides of sulphur, such as sulphur dioxide, from exhaust flue gases.

Eskom noted that the connection of Unit 1 of Kusile was coming at a time when the utility had been building up excess capacity to ensure security of supply.

In addition to Unit 6 of the Medupi power station, which had been operating for more than a year, Eskom said it had added 1,332 MW from all four units of the Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme, as well as the sychronisation of Medupi Unit 5.

The statement added that the excess capacity had enabled Eskom to increase its electrification target to more than 200,000 households by the end of March 2017, against the target of 169,722 set by the Department of Energy.

Eskom said it had also increased electricity exports to neighbouring countries, many of whose hydro-electric power schemes had been hit by drought. Eskom’s electricity sales to Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe rose 31.6 per cent in the six months to Sept 30.

The statement quoted Eskom’s interim group chief executive, Matshela Koko, as saying: “Eskom has focused on lessons learnt from its past history of new-build projects and this has led to this early synchronisation.

“Our build programme is now delivering ahead of our re-baseline schedule, our operations have stabilised and, as a result, we are in a position of surplus capacity.”