Reality bites as Eskom announces stage 6 blackouts until further notice

  • Today South Africa’s state energy utility, Eskom, has announced that Stage 6 loadshedding will remain in force until further notice.
  • Stage 6 means that the citizens and business’s in South Africa face daily blackouts of six hours or more on a rotational schedule. 

Eskom reports that the extension of loadshedding is caused by further breakdowns of generation units and continued shortage of generation capacity due to delays in returning to service some generation units. Eskom cautions the public that the system remains constrained and that changes to stages might be required at short notice.

On solving the energy crisis, South Africa’s Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Mr Gwede Mantashe told parliament in early February that there are six power stations with an energy availability factor of less than 50%. “In that process, we lose above 7 000MW. So if we want to deal with loadshedding, there must be an emphasis on optimising the power stations that are available and connected to the grid,” he said. Mantashe did not elaborate how he was going to get an additional 50% out of the ‘six power stations’ that are under breakdown. Read more

Last week, South Africa’s Minister in the Presidency responsible for Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, says the electricity crisis South Africa is facing can be resolved despite the challenges at Eskom.

Related news: Extending life of ageing coal-fired stations – anti-renewables policy incoherence could cost trillions

At press briefing, Ramokgopa said challenges at power stations, combined with other factors, have resulted in Eskom’s low Energy Availability Factor (EAF) and an electricity supply deficit of some 6000 megawatts [MW] – triggering the need for load shedding to protect the grid. He added that in order to preserve worker moral, moral extending the life of SA’s fleet of ageing coal-fired power stations must be considered. He said he would be making his recommendations to parliament who will make the final decision. Read more

The reality

As it stands today, breakdowns have increased to 18617MW of generating capacity while the generating capacity out of service for planned maintenance is 5807MW. That is 24424MW out of service out of a total domestic electricity generation capacity is 58095MW from all sources.

Over the past 24 hours two generation units were returned to service at Camden Power Station. In the same period, generating units at Duvha, Kendal, Medupi and Tutuka Power Stations were taken offline for repairs. The delays in returning a unit to service at Kendal, Lethabo, Medupi and Tutuka power stations have exacerbated the capacity constraints and the team is working around the clock to ensure that these units are returned to service as soon as possible.

Eskom cannot be fixed

In a broad-sweeping interview with journalist Annika Larsen on eTV in February, dismissed Eskom GCE, Mr Andre De Ruyter laid out his views and finding on ANC corruption and political interference. In the interview,  De Ruyter explained that the ANC was more interested in short-term political gains than long-term sustainability for the country. “They want what will win them the next election – not what will keep the country going for the next two decades,” said De Ruyter.

De Ruyter also said that fixing and turning Eskom around is not feasible. Read more

As the winter months start to set in and the demand for electricity increases, the risk of a national blackout remains high.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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