Matimba power station

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Matimba power station is a 3,990-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in Limpopo, South Africa.


The map below shows the location of the plant, in Lephalale, Waterberg District, Limpopo.

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Background on Plant

Matimba power station is a six-unit coal-fired power plant with a total capacity of 3,990 MW. The plant was completed between 1987 and 1991, and is owned by Eskom.[1]

According to a 2018 case study, the adjacent Grootegeluk coal mine has sufficient coal reserves to guarantee Matimba a minimum lifespan of 35 years, extending to a possible 50 years at 2,100 - 2,130 tons of coal per hour.[2] Another 2020 article found that at the current rate of production, the open pit mine has enough coal for the next 125 years.[3]

The plant has been described as follows: "Compared with the national angst about Medupi Power Station’s frequent outages and design flaws, Matimba is downright boring: it simply burns coal and produces carbon dioxide, over and over again, and will do so for decades to come."[3]

In October 2021, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment denied Eskom's request for environmental compliance postponement for the power station.[4] Eskom appealed the decision and claimed that, if implemented, it "would have a significant negative impact on the economy and employment … and delay the country’s plans for an energy transition to a cleaner energy supply.”[5]

According to South Africa's 2019 Integrated Resource Plan, the plant's 50-year Life Decommissioning is projected for 2037-2041.[6] In April 2020, Eskom listed the unit retirement dates between 2038 and 2042.[7]

Sabotage investigation

In late 2021, three of its units went down simultaneously after technicians dropped an extension cord onto the unit 2 transformer. Eskom CEO André de Ruyter – who had earlier shared that criminal elements were attempting to sabotage the power utility – explained that a team had been working on the station’s dry cooling fans when they dropped the cord. This caused a flash, which tripped the station board and shut down all cooling to units 1, 2, and 3, leading to all three shutting down.[8][9]

Plant Details

  • Sponsor: Eskom
  • Parent company: Eskom
  • Location: Lephalale, Waterberg District, Limpopo, South Africa
  • Coordinates: -23.6688333, 27.610838 (exact)
  • Status: Operating
  • Gross capacity: 3,990 MW (Units 1-6: 665 MW)
  • Type: Subcritical
  • In service: 1987-91
  • Project retirement: 2037-41 (or 2038-42)
  • Coal type:
  • Coal source:
  • Source of financing:

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