‘Unplanned Capacity Loss Factor’ is getting better at Eskom – Electricity Minister

  • Minister in the Presidency for Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, says trends are showing that there are signs of improvement and progress at Eskom.

He was briefing media on the implementation of the Energy Action Plan on Monday. “It is important that in the midst of momentary setbacks, when you go to Stage 4 and occasionally go to Stage 6 [load shedding], we don’t lose sight of essentially what is the trend-line. The best measure of this trend-line is illustrated in the Unplanned Capacity Loss Factor (UCLF), which is a combination of the reliability of the units and partial load losses. When we entered May [2023]… the amount of megawatts that were lost as a result of [UCLF] was averaging 17 369MW. The trend-line has been going down and the best performance… was during the month of December, where we had about 13 473MW. Essentially, we retrieved about 4 000 additional megawatts. For the month of February, we have been able to claw back about 3 000MW,” he said.

On the question of why, if megawatts have been recovered, does load shedding continue, Ramokgopa had this to say: “We use that improvement in the UCLF, as we are taking units out on planned maintenance. We are using that opportunity for us to ramp up planned maintenance. As these units return, you will be able to see a completely different picture of the… intensity of load shedding and also the frequency of load shedding,” he said.

Since May 2023, planned maintenance has ramped up from some 3 120MW to about 7 307MW in February this year. Ramokgopa implored citizens to be patient, as the ministry and Eskom work to resolve load shedding over the long-term.

“If we had not ramped up that planned maintenance… or reduced it from the current levels by anything between 25% and 50%, we would have completely eradicated load shedding at least between those periods. It’s important that we play that long-term game… The outside experts have told us to… focus on planned maintenance. And it is for this reason that Eskom has gone to National Treasury and said ‘we need additional fiscal relief. Eskom has deployed a significant amount of that money on planned maintenance. The units will return. They will return healthier and they will be able to perform,” he said.

The Minister said that avoiding planned maintenance could usher in catastrophic consequences. “We could go on the short-term intervention expedient, [and]reduce this maintenance by up to 50%. But we guarantee you that there will be deterioration of these assets and then in three months, there’ll be total collapse, significant failures and we are going to find it very difficult to recover these units,” he said.

Eskom latest update made on 8th March states that unplanned outages account for 16 193MW of generating capacity, while the capacity out of service for planned maintenance has reduced to 6 171MW.

The latest Eskom Energy Availability Factor (EAF) for Week 7, 2024, is 52.79%, with the year-to-date EAF slightly lower than for the same period last year. This despite the return to service of 3 x 800 MW generator units (Units 1, 2 and 3) at Eskom Kusile Power station in November 2023, and the synchronisation of Kusile Unit 4 to the grid in December 2023.

Eskom week-on-week energy availability factor EAF for 2023. Data source: Eskom. Image credit: Chris Yelland. Chris is an energy analyst, consultant, electrical engineer, public speaker, writer and MD at EE Business Intelligence (Pty) Ltd. Follow Chris on X – @chrisyelland

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

Partial content source: SAnews.gov.za

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