SAQA All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.

Occupational Certificate: Fossil Power Plant Operator 
103261  Occupational Certificate: Fossil Power Plant Operator 
Development Quality Partner - EWSETA -Engineering 
-   OQSF - Occupational Qualifications Sub-framework 
Occupational Certificate  Field 06 - Manufacturing, Engineering and Technology  Fabrication and Extraction 
Undefined  541  Not Applicable  NQF Level 05  Regular-ELOAC 
Passed the End Date -
Status was "Reregistered" 
SAQA 086/21  2021-07-01  2023-12-31 
2024-12-31   2027-12-31  

In all of the tables in this document, both the pre-2009 NQF Level and the NQF Level is shown. In the text (purpose statements, qualification rules, etc), any references to NQF Levels are to the pre-2009 levels unless specifically stated otherwise.  

This qualification replaces: 
Qual ID Qualification Title Pre-2009 NQF Level NQF Level Min Credits Replacement Status
61549  National Certificate: Power Plant Auxiliary Systems Operations  Level 3  NQF Level 03  120  Complete 
23678  National Certificate: Fossil Power Plant Operation  Level 4  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L4  183  Complete 

The purpose of this qualification is to prepare a learner to operate as a Fossil Power Plant Operator.

A Fossil Power Plant Operator: Operates, monitors, controls and performs field operations on fossil power plant systems to support the generation of energy in a safe and reliable manner.

A qualified learner will be able to:
  • Operate and control the auxiliary plants of a Fossil power generation facility.
  • Perform field operations on power generation plants in a fossil power generation facility.

    The National Development Plan aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030. According to the plan, South Africa can realise these goals by drawing on the energies of its people, growing an inclusive economy, building capabilities, enhancing the capacity of the state, and promoting leadership and partnerships throughout society.

    Research confirms the fact that there is a direct causal relationship between the availability of reliable and cost-efficient energy and economic development. The Integrated Resource Plan 2010 to 2030 (IRP) anticipates that, to sustain the required economic growth needed to deliver on the South African National Development plan we will have to increase our electricity generating capacity by approximately 40%. This will be done through a balanced mix of electricity generations that is set out in the IRP.

    Eskom generates approximately 95% of the electricity used in South Africa and approximately 45% of the electricity used in Africa. Eskom generates, transmits and distributes electricity to industrial, mining, commercial, agricultural, residential customers and redistributors. Additional power stations and major power lines are being built to meet rising electricity demand in South Africa. Eskom will continue to focus on improving and strengthening its core business of electricity generation, transmission, trading and distribution.

    Fossil fuels will remain a significant part of the energy mix for the future; South Africa is endowed with an abundance of coal and have vast resources that can be exploited to the benefit of the country and its people.

    This qualification is targeted at school leavers with Level 4 and also targeted at developing occupational competence for a key occupational grouping in the power generation value chain. Power Plant Operators are on an eight hour, three shifts in a 24 hours' day and ensure the efficient operation of the various power plants.

    There is a continual shortage of properly skilled power plant operators in this occupation, with the new build programmes this situation can be improved and thus curb and/or reduce the demand, and or shortage of suitably qualified power plant operators in future. The capacity building of this cadre of employees is critical to the success of our National Development Plan and the sustaining of our economy. Obtaining this qualification will launch the learner onto a career path within the industry and will assist in creating the required pool of future leaders in this essential sector. 

    Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL):
    RPL for access to the external integrated summative assessment:
    Accredited providers and approved workplaces must apply the internal assessment criteria specified in the related curriculum document to establish and confirm prior learning. Accredited providers and workplaces must confirm prior learning by issuing a statement of result or certifying a work experience record.

    RPL for access to the qualification:
    Accredited providers and approved workplaces may recognise prior learning against the relevant access requirements.

    Entry Requirements:
  • Occupational Certificate: Auxiliary Fossil Power Plant Operator; NQF Level 4, SAQA ID 103263. 


    This qualification is made up of the following compulsory Knowledge Practical Skills and Work Experience Modules:
    Knowledge Modules:
  • 313102-000-00-01-KM-01, Power plant technical understanding, Level 4, 54 Credits.
  • 313102-000-00-01-KM-02, Fundamentals of power plant operations, Level 4, 12 Credits.
  • 313102-000-00-01-KM-03, Theories and operating principles of primary energy plants (Coal plant, fuel plant and raw water system), Level 4, 21 Credits.
  • 313102-000-00-01-KM-04, Theories and operating principles of ash and dust disposal plants/systems, Level 4, 14 Credits.
  • 313102-000-00-01-KM-05, Theories and operating principles of circulating water plants, Level 4, 7 Credits.
  • 313102-000-00-01-KM-06, Theories and operating principles of Station services (Propane gas, Low pressure services, water systems, compressed air systems), Level 4, 24 Credits.
  • 313102-000-00-01-KM-07, Science and technology of power generating plants, Level 5, 30 Credits.
  • 313102-000-00-01-KM-08, Operating Principles Steam Generating Plants, Level 5, 20 Credits.
  • Knowledge, 313102-000-00-01-KM-09, Operating Principles of Steam Turbine Plants. Level 5, 24 Credits.
    Total number of credits for Knowledge Modules: 206.

    Practical Skill Modules
  • 313102-000-00-01-PM-01, Operate and control primary energy plants, Level 4, 3 Credit.
  • 313102-000-00-01-PM-02, Operate and control ash and dust disposal plants, Level 4, 16 Credits.
  • 313102-000-00-01-PM-03, Operate and control station service plants, Level 4, 24 Credits.
  • 313102-000-00-01-PM-04, Operate and control circulating water plants, Level 4, 8 Credits.
  • 313102-000-00-01-PM-05, Perform field operations on steam generating plants and associated systems, Level 5, 40 Credits.
  • 313102-000-00-01-PM-06, Perform field operations on steam turbine plants and associated systems, Level 5, 56 Credits.
    Total number of credits for Practical Skill Modules: 147.

    Work Experience Modules:
  • Work experience, 313102-000-00-01-WM-01, Operate and control power plant auxiliary plants/systems., Level 4, 92 Credits.
  • Work experience, 313102-000-00-01-WM-02, Operate steam generation and turbo generator plants and associated systems, Level 5, 96 Credits.
    Total number of credits for Work Experience Modules: 188. 

    1. Prepare all fossil power plant systems for service in order to ensure operability of the plant.
    2. Perform field operations on the various fossil power plant systems/components during start up, normal operations and shut down.
    3. Monitor and control plant systems/components in the field in different operating conditions, in order to ensure that they continuously operate within the required specifications and parameters.
    4. Conduct required administration and reporting functions in a fossil power generation plant. 

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 1:
  • Engineering system drawings, flow diagrams and approved procedures/plant documentation are correctly identified relevant to the specific equipment and systems indicated on the drawings.
  • Flow paths are accurately plotted, and all key equipment components are accurately identified.
  • Flow paths are analysed to identify the most appropriate configuration of plant equipment for specific operations.
  • Appropriate procedures are used for the interpretation and analysis of flow paths.
  • Procedures are used in accordance with the required standards and globally accepted expectations.
  • Major plant components are correctly listed and the purpose of each of the component are accurately described.
  • Explanations of how to identify major plant equipment in the various plants and their locations are described without reference to floor plans, procedures or any other material.
  • The potential hazards and risks associated with key equipment are described accurately and the preventative measures are described as per the relevant procedures.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 2:
  • Appropriate procedures/plant documents are accurately selected, and the specific sections of the procedures/plant documents are interpreted according to the specific plant/component condition.
  • Descriptions of operating processes/steps under a range of normal conditions are accurate according to the approved operating procedures/plant documents and describe the up and down stream implications.
  • Appropriate human error prevention tools are selected to deal with a full range of operation performance problems and the use of the tools are accurately described.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 3:
  • Causes of deviating performance are correctly identified and the reporting processes described according to the approved procedures/plant documents.
  • Appropriate alternative corrective actions are identified, and their implementation described according to approved processes.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 4:
  • All relevant documentation and reports for operating the plant are identified and the purpose of the documents and reports described in terms of the standards and expectations.
  • Relevant safety and occupational health sign posting and barricading for all plant areas are identified and the safety requirements for each area described in terms of the appropriate regulatory requirements.
  • The principles and implications of housekeeping are described according to the operating standards expectations and its impact on operating performance.

    Integrated Assessment:
    Integrated Formative Assessment:
    The skills development provider will use the curriculum to guide them on the stipulated internal assessment criteria and weighting. They will also apply the scope of practical skills and applied knowledge as stipulated by the internal assessment criteria. This formative assessment leads to entrance into the integrated external summative assessment.

    Integrated Summative Assessment:
    An external integrated summative assessment, conducted through the relevant Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) Assessment Quality Partner is required for the issuing of this qualification. The external integrated summative assessment will focus on the Exit Level Outcomes and Associated Assessment Criteria. 

    For international comparability, the United States of America (USA) and Germany were used as reference points. The comparability exercise is the same as for the part qualification Occupational Certificate: Auxiliary Fossil Power Plant Operator. Internationally there is no distinction between the two roles we have separated the roles in South Africa due to our unique labour situation.

    In the United States, there are thousands of power plants. These plants use hydrocarbon-based fuels (oil, gas, or coal) to produce electricity, and the plants are operated by power plant operators. Power plant operators are highly paid and enjoy a stable work environment. There is an on-going need for entry-level personnel. The bulk of the training for Power Plant operators take place on the job, however there are many colleges, universities and online training programmes that prepare learners with the required theoretical components. The various training institutions make use of comprehensive simulators and mainly aim to achieve the following learner competencies:
  • Ability to operate a power plant with safety as the prime consideration.
  • Ability to monitor instrumentation and the operation of equipment.
  • Ability to adjust system process variables, such as: flows, temperatures and pressures, within acceptable ranges.
  • Ability to detect potential and actual problems and take corrective action to prevent the interruption of system operations.
  • Ability to analyse operational trends and take corrective actions.
  • Ability to use standard operating procedures to start and stop production equipment.
  • Ability to maintain communication with other operators, maintenance, and management.

    The programmes in the USA cover a similar range of theory to that contained in the Occupational Certificate; however, the duration of the theory is significantly less than that of the Occupational Certificate.

    In Europe, specifically Germany, vocational specialisation takes place at a relatively early schooling phase and therefore the learner exits the schooling system with a high level of technical knowledge and in some cases exposure to the practical aspects of industry. From here theoretical knowledge is gained through schools that offer certificates and associated degree programs in power plant technology, the work place experience is gained through internships at Power Utilities.

    Most programs, in Europe, are linked to an "Operator/Maintainer" developmental approach, this is different from the South African context where the Operator and Maintenance staff work separately and undergo different training programmes.

    European utilities make use of independent schools to cover the knowledge and practical components. Workplace experience is addressed during internships and the Power Utility.

    It was found that the Occupational Certificate for Fossil Power Plant Operators is aligned to international training and certification programs delivered by independent utility training providers such as: Industrial resources, NC based in Louisiana United states of America and Kraftwerk Schuler, based in Germany Europe. However, the South African qualification contains more base line theory and excludes the maintenance components. 

    Horizontal Articulation:
    This qualification articulates horizontally with the following qualification:
  • National Diploma: Electrical Network Power Dispatch Controlling, Level 5.

    Vertical Articulation:
    This qualification articulates vertically with the following qualification:
  • Occupational Certificate: Fossil Power Plant Process Controller, Level 6. 



    Qualifying for External Assessment:
    In order to qualify for an external assessment, learners must provide proof of completion of all required modules by means of statements of results and work experience records including the Foundational Learning Competence.

    Additional Legal or Physical Entry Requirements:

    Criteria for the Accreditation of Providers:
    Accreditation of providers will be done against the criteria as reflected in the relevant curriculum on the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) website.

    The curriculum title and code are: Fossil Power Plant Operator: 313102-000-00-01.

    Encompassed Trades:
    This qualification encompasses the following trades as recorded on the NLRD:
  • This is not a trade.

    Assessment Quality Partner (AQP):
    Energy and Water Sector Education and Training Authority (EWSETA).

    Derived qualifications registered as part qualifications:
  • 313102-000-00-01, Auxiliary Fossil Power Plant Operator, Level 4, 308 Credits. 

    When qualifications are replaced, some (but not all) of their learning programmes are moved to the replacement qualifications. If a learning programme appears to be missing from here, please check the replaced qualification.

    This information shows the current accreditations (i.e. those not past their accreditation end dates), and is the most complete record available to SAQA as of today. Some Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionaries have a lag in their recording systems for provider accreditation, in turn leading to a lag in notifying SAQA of all the providers that they have accredited to offer qualifications and unit standards, as well as any extensions to accreditation end dates. The relevant Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionary should be notified if a record appears to be missing from here.

    All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.