Since the beginning of the year, Eskom has been performing load shedding across the country in an attempt to balance the electricity supply. According to a briefing by Eskom’s top officials, the electrical situation for the remainder of the year is bleak.
Eskom provides over 90% of the electricity in Africa’s most industrialized nation, but it frequently has blackouts due to issues at its coal-fired power plants, which have degraded due to years of mismanagement and incompetence.
Eskom leaders, including chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer, group executive of generation Philip Dukashe, and group executive of transmission Segomoco Scheppers, revealed in a Monday morning briefing that the electrical situation was taking longer than projected to improve.
The executives claimed that South Africa requires an additional 4 000 to 6 000 MW of generation capacity to remove the risk of scheduled power outages and that they will work on their maintenance plan to accomplish these outcomes.
“To ensure system stability and to meet demand a minimum of 4 000 MW of additional generating capacity is critical,” said the Eskom officials, “This will ensure the space for generation to continue with the planned reliability maintenance and refurbishment programme.”
In the briefing, Chief Operating Officer Jan Oberholzer stated that the company was failing to meet its Energy Availability Factor (EAF) target of 70%, stating that its current EAF is 65.3 percent, a “poor performance.” The EAF is a measure of the amount of power sent into the grid by power plants.
Oberholzer noted that their efforts to preserve their power plants will have an immediate negative impact on the EAF, but will ensure the system’s long-term viability. According to Oberholzer, other countries, such as Europe and the United States, have an EAF of 80 percent because they have not faced the same level of carelessness and mismanagement as South Africa’s power plants.
In addition to the pre-existing issues, Oberholzer stated that Eskom has been thrown many curveballs, which have aggravated the situation. “The curve balls we got at Medupi, Kendal, and Koeberg yesterday made things difficult,” Oberholzer remarked.
In August, Medupi Unit 4 exploded, and in September, a fire broke out at Kendal power station. Oberholzer revealed that Koeberg unit 1 tripped on Sunday due to a problem at a feedwater pump.
Eskom noted in the briefing that, despite these issues, load-shedding will continue for the rest of the year.
“Now, while this is virtually impossible to achieve, it indicates that we are likely to have more than that one day. We’ve had more than ten days of rain this summer, so we’re not off to a good start “Scheppers stated.
If the performance is worse than the basic scenario, he adds, “we predict perhaps 40 days of stage 2 with large diesel spend (R6.7 billion”). “It’s not a good picture,” he said.
When asked about their preparations for the rainy season, Eskom replied that they were striving to improve their coal handling capacity and lower the danger of wet coal occurrences during the rainy season.