Eskom Chief Executive, Andre de Ruyter, says although power supply will remain constrained throughout the week, several generating units are expected to return to service ahead of the Easter holidays.
“We’ve got a number of units returning before the long weekend… Matla power station [unit] 6, Grootvlei power station [unit] 3, five units at Camden Power Station. Tuthuka power station [unit] 3 should also be returning from a boiler tube leak before the long weekend,” he said on Tuesday.
The electricity supplier was forced to implement load shedding on Monday evening because of breakdowns and losses of generating capacity at several power stations. The utility is also due to implement load shedding again from 5pm this afternoon until 5am on Wednesday.
The chief executive said reserve-generating capacity remains in a healthy state at the country’s two open cycle gas turbines.
He added, however, that the power utility would “want to avoid using that as much as possible”.
“We have about 70% worth of diesel at Ankerlig [power station] which… generates electricity using diesel during peak hours and emergency purposes. This is enough to keep all the units running for 24 hours. This may seem like a lot but it is not because we have to replenish the diesel by road and this creates some logistical challenges for us, so we have to conserve diesel at Ankerlig.
“Gourikwa power station… is sitting at a far healthier 85% because we have access to extensive offsite storage facility connected by pipelines. There we have some 36 hours of operation if all units are utilised simultaneously,” he said.
The total amount of lost generating capacity is currently 13 966MW which will render Eskom unable to keep up with demand on Tuesday evening.
A further 4804MW of generating capacity is also unavailable due to maintenance.
De Ruyter said the cautious outlook for the upcoming winter months “is not entirely dire”.
“We are approaching winter where we will throttle back on our planned maintenance… and we have also, historically, seen that the generation fleet performs much better during winter months when the weather is cold and dry, the air is denser and we get better combustion performance out of our coal fired power stations.”
He warned, however, that a firm outlook on when exactly load shedding will occur cannot be made because of the instability in the power grid.
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“What we have seen, as with the current bout of load shedding, is that we tend to see these clusters of plants and units tripping simultaneously. We are doing work to get to the bottom of these simultaneous failures across the units. There might be some systemic issues that we need to unpack,” he said.
De Ruyter said the power utility is eagerly anticipating the addition of more capacity onto the grid as a result of the Department of Mineral and Energy’s Renewable Energy Procurement Programme.
“From round about the middle to the end of next year, we should start seeing additional capacity coming onto the grid as we have advocated for quite some time.
“We look forward to that capacity being added to alleviate the pressure that we’re currently experiencing and obviously that will considerably assist in allowing us the headroom to continue to carry out the much needed maintenance on our coal fired fleet.”
The chief executive added that Eskom itself is embarking on a renewable energy project, which will also bring much needed help.
“We issued an inquiry to the market for proposals to build a renewable energy [power plant] on Eskom land adjacent to our power stations where there is sufficient grid connection capacity.
“Where we have available grid connections capacity, we are now making available land. This is the first of its kind process that we are running [and] we anticipate that we’ll get some 1000MW as a consequence of this process. In about 18 to 24 months, that capacity should be making its presence felt,” he said.
Source : AllAfrica