Eskom achieves Energy Availability Factor of 70.78% – electricity minister

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  • South Africa’s state owned energy utility, Eskom, has achieved an Energy Availability Factor (EAF) of some 70.78% – a feat last achieved nearly three years ago.

This is according to Minister in The Presidency responsible for Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, who was briefing media on the implementation of the Energy Action Plan on Monday. The power utility has suspended load shedding for more than a month.

“As I stand before you today, the Energy Availability Factor of Eskom has breached the 70% mark. That’s significant. The last time we achieved this was in August 2021.The month-to-date statistics suggest that we are at 64.34% and the year to date we are at 59.92%. But we have breached the psychological mark of 70% as a result of this consistent performance. This has happened over a period of time. It stretches from the appointment of [the current Eskom]board in October 2022. It gets to be codified in the Energy Action Plan unveiled by President Ramaphosa [in]July 2022, the appointment of the Minister in The Presidency responsible for Electricity, the stabilisation of the management team, the introduction of performance related incentive bonuses and the isolation of critical stations that required attention,” he said.

The Minister reflected that as the country was plunged into higher stages of load shedding as a result of heightened and extensive maintenance and other factors, government argued that “the short-term pain would be eclipsed by long-term gains”.

“The aggressive maintenance-led recovery plan is beginning to yield fruits. When we went into December 2023, transitioning into January 2024, we reached the highest levels of planned maintenance in the period of three years. We took out 18% of the total generating capacity into planned maintenance and these units are coming back.”

Less reliant on the Open Cycle Gas Turbines

Ramokgopa said as a result of the improved performance of Eskom’s coal fleet, the power utility is less reliant on the Open Cycle Gas Turbines (OCGTs), which consume diesel.

“What we are told in the public domain…[is]that the result of this improvement is on the back of the burning of diesel. There could be nothing further from the truth. This is anchored by these machines that are at Kusile and many other power stations. The load factor of the OCGT [has decreased]from what was previously 19.13% to now what is 6.8%. So we have reduced it by about 13 percentage points. What anchors this recovery is the performance of these coal fired power stations,” Ramokgopa said.

The Electricity Minister warned that although there has been noteworthy improvement, more work must be done to resolve the energy challenge in its entirety.

“We need to ensure sure that we bring other power stations to the levels of [best performers]Kusile, Lethabo, Majuba and Medupi so that across the entire fleet, when you use station by station, we should be above 70%.

“Of course we don’t congratulate a fish for swimming because it must swim but we know where we come from. So I want to say to the [Eskom] team, thank you for breaching the 70% EAF… but we know that there are power stations that require attention going into the future,” said Ramokgopa.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal


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