Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown says she is confident that construction of South Africa's new coal-fired power plant, the 4 764 MW Medupi power station near Lephalale in Limpopo province, will be completed by December.
Brown said this in Cape Town on Tuesday when she, along with Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson and the top management of state electricity company Eskom, appeared before Parliament's portfolio committees on public enterprises and energy.
The R105bn power plant is expected to ease the pressure from Eskom's ageing power grid, which in recent months has been battling to supply electricity to both residential and industrial customers.
Brown said that despite many challenges and construction delays, she was "very confident" that the synchronisation of Medupi's Unit 6 into the national power grid would happen by December.
Medupi is one of the two large coal-fired stations that Eskom is currently building. It will the first South African power station to have "super-critical" technology, and one of the world's largest dry cooled stations, so it will much more efficient than older coal-fired stations.
The other station, Kusile, is located in Mpumalanga province and will have the same technology but with the addition of flue-gas desulphurisation, a state-of-the art technology used to remove oxides of sulphur from the exhaust flue gases of coal-fired power plants.
President Jacob Zuma, in his State of the Nation address last month, said the government would pave the way for a "radical transformation" of South Africa's energy sector as it moved to address one of the major constraints to faster economic growth in the country.
This transformation, he said, would require "structural changes in the manner in which government departments, affected state-owned companies and the industry as a whole address the energy challenges".
It would also call for an injection of capital and human resources into the sector, as well as innovative approaches to fast-track procurement and delivery by the government in the sector.
On Tuesday, Brown stressed the importance of increasing Eskom's power supply capacity, saying the parastatal's performance was vital to the country's economic growth.
She added that she wanted Eskom's new CEO to be announced no later than mid-August. Former CEO Brian Dames stepped down at the end of March. "Following this, I have urged the board to move rapidly to fill all the other critical vacant executive positions to ensure the sustainability of the company."
She said she had also given Eskom's board until September to produce a plan on ensuring the sustainability of South Africa's national power grid.