Eskom sets out R7bn spend on new transformers transmission network over next 10 years

Published Jun 25, 2024


Power utility Eskom has shortlisted five contractors to supply the first batch of 26 transformers to be awarded by the end of July as it embarks on a massive project to install more than 14 000km of new transmission lines by 2032.

This comes as the National Transmission Company of South Africa (NTCSA), to be launched next Monday, sets out the “largest infrastructure roll-out programme since the inception of its predecessor, Eskom’s Transmission Division with the commitment to deliver 170 transformers to bring on board 105 865MVA transformer capacity and 14 218km of new transmission lines by 2032”.

The suppliers, mostly with a local with an international footprint, will compete for various tenders in the coming years.

Eskom said yesterday that he contracts were expected to be worth in the region of R7 billion over a period of four years.

“The aim is to connect 53GW of new generation capacity over the next ten years and to achieve this, innovative project delivery models and partnerships are being explored and implemented to drive accelerated delivery of the Transmission Development Plan (TDP), including a priority programme for strategic projects,” said Eskom’s managing director for transmission, Sekgomoco Scheepers.

“NTCSA is developing 47 projects that have the potential to unlock 37GW of grid connection capacity between 2025 and 2033.”

The first batch of 26 power transformers has been issued to the suppliers and is expected to be awarded by July 2024.

Over the next 10 years, it is envisaged 101 large-scale and various other sizes of transformers will be required for the infrastructure build rollout.

Eskom yesterday said the transformer contract included a list of 34 transformers that form part of two priority programmes to accelerate the delivery of the transmission infrastructure.

The first is 25 projects at existing substations that will provide additional transformers to unlock 13 000MW of new generation capacity; and 22 expedited transmission projects expected to unlock 24 000MW of grid connection capacity.

Eskom said the NTCSA has designed a framework agreement to procure the 101 large-scale and various other sizes of transformers from the selected suppliers to address the large-scale demand up to the end of the 2028 financial year.

Eskom said in anticipation of the supply chain being established locally with the rollout of subsequent tenders, it has begun on an accreditation initiative that has seen 22 companies locally and internationally being recognised for various classes of transformers.

“The contracting strategy has been designed to allow for efficient procurement processes to maintain and strengthen governance and reduce lead times to adequately deliver on the TDP requirements, promote localisation and enable the delivery of approximately 28GW to the grid by the end of the 2028 financial year,” Eskom said.

“The procurement will enable the NTCSA to meet its transformer needs across the country.”

Earlier this month, Eskom officials said the utility had so far this year replaced about 400 transformers damaged by network overloading, with most issues stemming from electricity theft.

About 2 500 transformers nationwide are frequently overloaded and at risk of failing with just under 1 000 transformers are isolated and awaiting replacement.

Eskom’s acting group executive for distribution, Agnes Mlambo, said the utility classified electricity in wide-ranging forms seen in incidents of illegal connections; network equipment theft; vandalism; meter-bypassing and tampering; unauthorised network operations; and illicit electricity sales.

“The time, funds and manpower used to replace these transformers could have been utilised to improve the reliability of our network,” Mlambo said, drawing attention to Eskom’s “Save Your Transformers, Save Lives” campaign to encourage users to reduce consumption and ensure that their connections are legal and paid for.