The facility, which was built at a cost of R1.5-billion, represented the largest single investment in gas engine technology in Africa. It has an operating capacity of 140 MW, enough to power 200 000 households.
Half of the electricity generated by the plant will be used by Sasol's adjacent chemical factory, Sasol Infrachem, with the remainder to be fed into the national power grid.
The plant has been producing above its operational capacity at 152 MW since commissioning in December and will operate at 175 MW over its first year of operation. Thereafter, it would operate at 140 MW, owing to an ongoing maintenance schedule.
The facility reduces Sasol’s carbon emissions by one-million tons a year and has allowed the group to reach its target of 60% self-generated power, thereby easing its dependance on the national grid.
The project was completed three months ahead of schedule and almost 20% below budget.
Finland-based Wärtsilä supplied the complete turnkey project on a fast-track basis with performance guarantees. The company was responsible for the engineering, procurement, construction and project management of the power plant, which is powered by 18 Wärtsilä 34SG gas engines running on natural gas brought in by pipelines from Mozambique.
The plant will be operated and maintained by Wärtsilä under a three-year agreement.
“This is a very successful project for Sasol New Energy, an excellent result from Wärtsilä, Foster Wheeler, Sasol Technology and all other contractors,” said Sasol New Energy MDHenri Loubser.
Gas engine power plants require less time to build and install, usually taking between 20 and 30 months, compared with the 40 to 50 months required to build a coal-fired power plant and 60 to 80 months to build a nuclear power plant.
Sasol and its Mozambican partner, the country’s State-owned power utility, Electricidade de Moçambique, have approved an investment in a similar power generation facility in Ressano Garcia, Mozambique. The project aims to start electricity generation in the second quarter of next year.