Innovative methods to clean the Earth’s atmosphere are being used all over the world, from air-cleansing pot plants in office buildings to green technologies at massive power plants. Globally, there is an overwhelming awareness that everyone needs to pitch in to do whatever they can to decrease levels of pollution in urban and peri-urban areas. GE Steam Power has an answer.

It is also vitally important for power utility companies to invest in new technologies that are being implemented in coal plants to reduce air pollution and improve the quality of life of those who live near the plants.

Among the most promising of these technologies are air quality control systems such as Wet Flue Gas Desulphurization (WFGD). The Kusile Power Plant in Mpumalanga, South Africa is implementing WFGD technology to reduce emissions and increase efficiencies. The usage of WFGD makes Kusile, which is owned by South African power utility Eskom, the cleanest coal-fired power plant in the country as well as in Africa.

Eskom’s Acting Chief Executive, Phakamani Hadebe said: “Kusile is the first power plant in Africa to implement clean fuel technology such as wet-flue gas desulphurization. This state-of-the-art innovation is used to remove oxides from sulphur, such as sulphur dioxide, which is found in exhaust flue gases in power plants that burn coal or oil.”

“This innovation is fitted as an atmospheric emission abatement technology in line with current international practice to ensure compliance with air-quality standards, especially since the power station is in an air-shed priority area,” said Hadebe.

In April 2018, GE  Steam Power successfully completed performance tests at Unit 1 of the Kusile WFGD Plant and achieved an impressive 93% removal efficiency  rate during the tests, which exceeded all expectations.

“We are extremely proud of this milestone as our expert global and local Engineering, Procurement and Commissioning [EPC] teams have worked tirelessly to ensure that the WFGD system installed on Kusile’s Unit 1 performs well above the set parameters,” said Nthabiseng  Kubheka, GE’s Executive Project Director for Kusile’s six 800MW Turbine Islands and WFGD Projects.

GE’s scope of work at Kusile  includes the Engineering, Procurement and Commissioning of the six turbine islands (which will deliver 800MW each), air-cooled condensers and WFGD technology. Once complete, Kusile will add a total of 4800MW to the national energy grid which is enough to provide electricity for 3,5-million South African homes.

“The energy demands of South Africa are growing and coal remains a vital part of the energy mix. By bringing cleaner, affordable, reliable and efficient technology solutions to the Kusile power plant, we have proven that coal can continue to play an essential role in meeting the country’s growing energy needs,” said Lee Dawes, General Manager, GE Steam Power in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“This WFGD system ensures the highest removal of sulphur from the combustion process, ensuring that Kusile complies with the most stringent international standards while also protecting the communities around it and simultaneously responding to growing energy demands across the country,” said Dawes.

In addition to assisting in reducing pollution, GE has contributed significantly towards the local economy and much-needed skills development in Mpumalanga. More than 3,300 professionals, which include direct employees and sub-contractors, have worked at and continue to work at Kusile.

GE has also invested in a site-based welding training centre and provided tertiary education bursaries for more than 170 students from Mpumalanga.

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