• Eskom Holdings(Pty) Ltd

    Kusile Power Station – Virtual 3D Plant Simulator for O&M

    Witbank, Mpumalanga, South Africa

Project Summary

In response to South Africa’s electricity supply constraints, Eskom Holdings fast-tracked the USD 14 billion Kusile Power Station construction from 10 to 8 years. Group Technology (Engineering) partnered with the Kusile team to prototype 3D visualization and simulation technologies, and create a virtual 3D plant simulator for use in construction, commissioning, operations and maintenance of this first of its kind plant for Eskom, with six 800-megawatt power generation units and flue gas desulphurization (FGD) technology.

The multi-contractor EPC project team integrated complex layout/arrangement designs and 3D model submissions using Bentley civil products and MicroStation to merge models in various formats. Bentley Navigator enabled and fast and efficient checking for construction interferences. MicroStation was the primary platform used to develop and integrate the 3D visualization model. The simulator was deployed to develop operating procedures, training sequences, and commissioning information packs.

The shortened construction timeline required the EPC team to confirm operational readiness — operability and maintainability — during the design phase. This allowed for faster, more efficient commissioning of the plant. Delivering the project in 24 months less time than originally planned significantly reduced the project execution cost and resources expended. Moreover, income could be generated from the plant two years earlier than planned. Eskom estimates the resulting profit at over USD 1 billion.

Using the MicroStation platform allowed Eskom to deliver 2D/3D content including 3D visualizations and simulations to gain a significant return on investment. The platform allowed the multi-discipline engineering and design work to be integrated in the full plant 3D model that was required for the O&M simulation. Faster, safer virtual pre-commissioning, operator and maintenance training, and inspection route development reduced plant hand-over lead times.

  • Kusile Power Station was the first Eskom project to implement FGD technology, which required expert understanding of the plant, process, and controls for optimization.
  • Eskom leveraged 3D models and PC gaming technology to create a unique information asset for the plant’s operation and maintenance staff.
  • Creating a safe, virtual environment for O&M users to interrogate the design and be trained contributed to the safety of the plant staff.
User Quote:
  • Being able to utilize a wide spectrum of Bentley products, and combining this effectively with laser scanning technology and O&M simulation, visualization and training technology, an extremely valuable information asset has been created for a brownfields power plant in the Eskom fleet. The use of bleeding edge technology capabilities have now leap-frogged the value of point cloud data into one of the most valuable engineering information assets a brownfields plant can have. An unparalleled set of O&M capabilities in a virtual 3D world now becomes available to the operators, maintainers and engineering staff in these plants.

    Riekie Swanepoel Chief Technologist, Engineering Eskom