Auxiliary Transformers Ready For Kusile

Electrical equipment supplier Zest WEG Group has delivered 18 auxiliary transformers to State-owned power utility Eskom’s new 4 800 MW Kusile coal-fired power station, in Mpumalanga, and is ready to deliver 12 more auxiliary transformers that are currently stored at the company’s Middleburg facility.

Zest WEG sales and marketing director Gary Daines explains that this forms part of an order placed by the utility in 2011 for 42 auxiliary transformers, ranging from 3 MVA to 20 MVA, which will be supplied in consignments until 2016.

“The Kusile project is also one of the biggest orders that the Zest WEG Group has received for a single power station at one time,” he points out.

Kusile will be the first power station in South Africa to have flue gas desulphurisation technology installed to remove oxides of sulphur from the exhaust flue gases.

The first unit is planned for commercial operation by the end of 2014, with the last unit expected to be in commercial operation by 2018.

Meanwhile, Zest WEG Group power division manager Russell Finch believes that the Kusile contract was awarded to Zest WEG partially as a result of the group’s ability to prove itself as a reliable vendor to Eskom.

Under a different contract awarded by Eskom in 2007, Zest WEG Group is supplying distribution, generation and transmission transformers – ranging from 2.5 MVA to 160 MVA – to Eskom, as part of its infrastructure upgrade programme to boost capacity and meet growing local demand for power.

“It is possible that we secured the contract to supply the auxiliary transformers to Kusile based on the successful deliveries accomplished to date under the older Eskom contract,” he says.

Finch says that factors, such as service, quality, delivery times and price, may also have positioned the company as the best vendor for this category of transformers.

“Auxiliary transformers are a vital element of the Kusile plant and we are so confident in the reliability of our product that we have extended the guarantee on these units to a period of five years from delivery,” Finch asserts

He says the units were manufactured and tested at WEG Group’s manufacturing facility in the state of Santa Catarina, in Brazil, with Eskom representatives present to witness and approve the test results for each subsequent consignment.

“After testing, the auxiliary transformers were partially disassembled and packaged for sea freight to the Port of Durban, in KwaZulu-Natal, where Zest WEG Group technical personnel did an initial quality inspection on the transformers. They were then transported by road to the company’s Middelburg branch. Final assembly and oil filling were conducted, followed by the cold commissioning of each unit prior to final delivery to its temporary plinth at the Kusile site,” Finch explains.

He emphasises that the Kusile project is not only about delivering a quality product, it is also about establishing a presence in the area near to the power station to receive each consignment of transformers earlier than required, ensuring that delivery times are met consistently.

Finch highlights that the 18 units supplied to date were delivered ahead of Zest WEG Group’s delivery commitments.

Local Communal Benefit

As part of its contractual obligations to Eskom, Zest WEG Group has made a significant commitment to local content, to the extent that 33% of expenditure associated with the contract will be earmarked for local content in the form of procurement from large black-owned suppliers, black women-owned enterprises and small black-owned enterprises.

“Skills development also forms an important pillar of Zest WEG Group’s operating philosophy and, owing to the contract being awarded, 14 candidates are being trained to work for the company, of whom two are candidate professional engineers enrolled for bachelor degrees, seven are technicians and five are electricians,” states Finch.

Further, he says that Zest WEG has also taken a strategic decision to extend the geographic reach of its corporate social investment (CSI) projects to ensure it participates in projects where it has branches and customer footprints.

“We are also planning to roll out an education-focused CSI initiative in the geographic region where Kusile is being constructed in the next 18 months,” Finch concludes.

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