Aerial view of Thembalethu Substation
In response to the growing demand for electricity and to enhance reliability in Thembalethu, the construction of the new 66/11 kV 40 MVA electrical substation in the area is well underway. This project, currently one of the largest in the Southern Cape, signifies a major milestone in the City of George’s bulk infrastructure development.
Reacting to the progress made so far, Alderman Leon Van Wyk, Executive Mayor of George, expressed the significance of this initiative. “The construction of the Thembalethu 66kV Substation is a crucial step in ensuring improved electrical supply reliability and providing adequate capacity to support the area’s growth. It is a demonstration of our commitment to facilitating growth and service delivery, attracting investment from both the state and businesses,” Mayor Van Wyk said.
Despite some initial delays, construction progress remains on track, with the project expected to be completed within three years. Key milestones include the completion of the substation building and the installation of most electrical equipment. The 11 kV switchgear panel is in place, and two 66/11 kV, 20 MVA power transformers, along with switchgear and other essential equipment, have been successfully installed. Ongoing work involves the installation of electrical and control cabling.
The substation is adopting the latest, state-of-the-art technology, including an IEC61850 protocol protection scheme for enhanced control and protection within the substation. The DNP3 VER 2 protocol is being utilized for communication between the substation and the control centre, ensuring efficiency with reduced ‘overheads.’ Fibre optic cables are being used extensively for control and protection communication, minimizing the reliance on copper cables. This advanced network enables remote monitoring of alarms, CCTV security, and control of the substation.
The benefits of the New 66KV substation
The acting director of the George Municipality’s Electrotechnical Services Kobus Wilken highlighted the expected benefits of the new substation upon completion at the end of 2023. “The Thembalethu 66kV Substation will not only cater to the immediate needs of the area but will also allow for future expansion. It will provide reliable electricity, additional job opportunities, and improve the overall capacity for growth in Thembalethu and surrounding areas.”
“The load on the adjacent 66 kV substations and electrical networks in Pacaltsdorp and George Industria will be reduced once the new substation takes up the load. This will prolong the available capacity at these substations and electrical networks and provide alternate capacity during system faults. The ring supply to Thembalethu substation will also provide a ring feed and firm supply to SS Protea, the 66 kV substation in Pacaltsdorp and to SS Glenwood, the 66 kV substation that supplies the entire Eastern area of George, including the Garden Route Mall,” Wilken added.
The final cost of the substation, including all associated consultant fees and 15% VAT, is expected to be approximately R77 900,000.00.
The need for a 66kV substation in Thembalethu was identified over 20 years ago, and the current project builds upon the foundation laid by the Ballots Bay 11kV substation. High demand necessitated the expansion of the electrical supply capacity, leading to the establishment of the new Thembalethu 66/11 kV substation. The completion of the initial phase in 2014/15 laid the groundwork for the current project, connecting SS Protea in Pacaltsdorp to Thembalethu and energizing it at 11 kV.
Mayor Van Wyk acknowledged the collaborative efforts and planning involved, saying, “The Thembalethu 66kV Substation is proof of the long-term vision and commitment of the municipality to address the evolving energy needs of our community. This strategic infrastructure investment sets the stage for sustained electrification and growth for years to come.”