Drakensberg Pumped Storage Scheme
The Drakensberg Pumped Storage Scheme is an energy storage facility built in the Northern Drakensberg near to Oliviershoek Pass. The Drakensberg Pumped Storage Scheme provides for up to 27.6 GWh of electricity storage in the form of 27,000,000 cubic metres (950,000,000 cu ft) of water. The water is pumped to Driekloof during times of low national power consumption (generally over weekends) and released back into Kilburn Dam through four 250 MW turbine generators in times of high electricity demand. The Drakensberg Pumped Storage Scheme was designed to generate electricity for 10 hours with all 4 units per day, pump water back to the top dam for 9 hours with all 4 units per day. A special feature of the station is that it is constructed entirely underground with only a dam wall, lift shaft buildings and transmission lines visible at the surface. The four reversible pump turbines are situated 52 stories below ground level.
The Tourism Experience
Guided tours of the Drakensberg Pumped Storage Scheme are offered – These guided tours are particularly useful for school groups. Guided tours begin at the Drakensberg Visitors Center with a presentation providing an introduction to Eskom followed by a detailed overview of the operational function of the power station. An interactive exhibition and brochures provide further information. The visit continues with a site tour to the station, which includes viewing the Valve Hall and the Machine Hall. The visit showcases South Africa’s technology and business capability. The diversity of engineering disciplines involved in the construction and operation of the power station, make the visit of interest to a wide spectrum of audiences.
The Visitors Centre opening hours for viewing the displays are from Monday to Friday. Guided tours are conducted Monday to Thursday 9:00 or 13:00 and Friday 9:00 only.