800MW unit at Kusile coal fired power plant returns to service

  • Kusile Power Station’s Unit 4 has returned to service bringing back 800 megawatts, which was taken off during the unit’s 20-day planned maintenance.

Minister in the Presidency for Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said this while briefing the media on the implementation of the country’s Energy Action Plan yesterday.The unit came back online on Sunday morning, and will add 800 megawatts to the capacity available and removes 800 megawatts from the planned maintenance of Eskom.

Units 1, 2 and 3 of the power station located in Mpumalanga were put offline due to a flue-gas desulphurisation (FGD) mechanism that was damaged in October last year. This affected stacks at the units. He said that these are expected to come online between October and the end of November 2023.

“We’ve been able to shed a month on the return of unit 3 and the expectation is that we should be able to return this unit by 14 October. The same is applicable for unit 1. We should be able to get it on 30 October. On progress made on unit 2, the Minister said the team initially was of the view that the unit would return on 24 December. However, this has been revised to 30 November 2023.

The Minister reiterated that Kusile is central to addressing the load shedding question, because “we will need significant more additional generating capacity to be able to address this”. The minister also mentioned that  objections to Kusile emissions could prevent the units from restarting. Civil society has appealed the decision by the country’s environment minister to allow flue gas desulphurization bypass for units one to three. Read more 

The country is plagued by daily blackouts of 10 hours or more as generation capacity cannot meet demand due to poor planning, breakdowns, corruption, fraud, sabotage, theft and incompetence. Read more

Eskom’s ability to generate electricity is in decline year on year and accordingly, affects loadhsedding levels negatively.

Information source: Eskom

Respected energy analysts, Chris Yelland from EE Business Intelligence, explains that graphs above show Eskom energy availability factor (EAF) from week 1, 2021, to week 34, 2023. EAF for week 34, 2023, is 55.32%, compared to 61.10% for week 34, 2022. The EAF for the 2023 calendar year to date is 54.52%, compared to 59.78% for the same period in 2022.

Earlier this week Eskom reported stage 6 loadshedding (blackouts) with breakdowns are currently at 16 784MW of generating capacity while the capacity out of service for planned maintenance is 4 987MW. That is 21471MW out of service from a total of around 58000MW of total generation capacity from all technologies.

Eskom’s unplanned outage assumption for the coming 12 months reveals that ongoing high stages of blackouts remains high well into 2024.

Eskom unplanned outage assumption for next 12 months. Source: Eskom

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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