Eskom December 09 www. bus- ex. com 69 powerhouse that will be fitted out with four pump turbines. The idea is that when demand for power peaks and exceeds the base load supply, water can be released from the upper dam through the turbines to the lower dam, generating electricity. Then when demand is low, the turbines are used to pump the water from the lower dam back up to the upper dam- essentially storing energy for future use. Work is now well underway on the project. Construction of the infrastructure began in January 2007, while the main underground work began in September 2008. The power station should come on line in 2013, with one unit being commissioned each quarter of that year. In all three of these projects, considerable attention has been paid to protecting the environment. Specifically for the Ingula project, Eskom established a partnership with two non- governmental organisations, BirdLife South Africa and Middelpunt Wetland Trust, to provide a forum for discussion and advice on environmental issues. The partnership has been meeting regularly for the past five- and- a- half years. To extend participation to other organisations interested in environmental aspects of the pumped storage scheme, the Ingula Partnership created a working committee with participation from, among others, the Department of Agriculture, the KwaZulu Natal and Free State Provincial Environmental Departments, and the Ekangala Grassland Trust. The area around Ingula is a valuable source of water for the Highveld and also a habitat for a variety of plants, birds and animals. Among the wildlife that can be spotted in the area are the wattled crane, one of South Africa's five most endangered birds, and the threatened oribi, a small and very graceful antelope. Eskom has therefore decided to manage the region as a conservation area, and in cooperation with land owners in the district, it will be creating a larger conservation area to protect the moist grasslands of eastern Free State and northern KwaZulu Natal. A key part of the programme will be the creation of a network of walking and hiking trails, while other eco- tourism attractions such as river trails, birding and cycling will be investigated. On both the Medupi and Kusile sites, care has been taken to move and replant trees that would be affected by ground clearance, and to relocate wildlife. At Medupi, for example, a beautiful visual beacon on the site was an
70 www. bus- ex. com December 09 ancient baobab tree believed to be several hundred years old. A lengthy process was initiated to relocate the tree to the entrance of the power station where it will continue to be a local landmark. Meanwhile, at Kusile, two heritage sites were preserved and some 205 graves were relocated. An extensive programme to improve the transmission line network has also been underway for the past four years. During that time, some 1,962 kilometres of high- voltage transmission lines have been installed and a new ultra high- voltage line to the Cape is under construction. Meanwhile, refurbishment of the Apollo substation is expected to increase the availability of the Cahora Bassa/ Apollo DC interconnection, and a total of 10 new transformers have been installed. These major construction projects are part of a long-term investment that will enable Eskom to meet South Africa's power needs in the future. However, steps had to be taken urgently to provide extra capacity to relieve pressure on the grid and to do this, the company has done several things. It has been working to bring back into service three coal- fired power stations which had been mothballed in the late 1980s/ early 1990s. The Camden power station is now back on line and delivering 1,440 megawatts of power to the grid, while the Grootvlei and Komati stations are currently in the process of being re- commissioned. In addition, two new open cycle gas turbine stations were commissioned in October 2007 and have subsequently been further expanded: Ankerlig can now deliver up to 1,327 megawatts to the grid when " An ambitious programme of construction was initiated some four years ago, with the aim of delivering more than 14,600 megawatts of additional power by 2017, and to double the current capacity by 2028"