In May 2007, when South African utility Eskom broke ground on Medupi, the country’s first new powerplant since the 1980s, in some cases it was business as usual. The generating station would be coal-fired, sited next to the supplying mine and—with a 4,800-MW rated capacity—immense. Medupi, by far the largest powerplant under construction in Africa, will be one of the largest in the world upon completion. It will account for about 11% of South Africa’s electricity generating capacity. Kusile, another new plant with a commissioning schedule about 18 months behind Medupi’s, has an identical “six-pack configuration,” with six identical 800-MW
The market is generally healthy and steadily growing, and margins are up for large specialty contractors. Further, advances in design tools and owner demand for collaboration are giving subcontractors a seat at the table early on in projects.