Units at all 12 of Eskom’s oldest and most important power stations have shut down, leading to an unprecedented 17,371MW of power being removed from the grid, City Press reports.
According to documents seen by the paper, the Eskom power crisis is far worse than first thought, leaving the country’s power grid in a more harrowing position than during the rolling blackouts of 2015 – when 15,500MW was offline.
At the centre of the crisis, all major power stations have had units shut down due to failures or planned maintenance – while new stations have had to be shut down due to poor construction.
Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan revealed this week that design flaws at the new Medupi and Kusile power stations caused unit failure, taking as much as 1,000MW off the grid.
To fix the issues, it will cost as much as R345 billion, the paper said.
Eskom said that power levels should be more sustainable over Christmas, and there should be enough power available by the end of the year – but to repair everything that needs to be fixed will take until January 2021 to accomplish.
Adding to the capacity crisis, Eskom is also too broke to buy enough diesel to make up for the loss of power.
The group is also set back by faults on lines bringing power from its hydro plants, and poor monitoring of oil levels which causes auto shut-downs.
Energy experts have also said that poor coal quality is another major issues, with plants having to be shut down to clean out damaging materials as a result.
Eskom said in a statement on Saturday (8 December), that there is high probability for stage 2 load shedding on Sunday.
It said that increased breakdowns at power stations had further impacted the availability of sufficient generation capacity.
“As a result, we have been unable to build up the necessary reserve for the week ahead.
“We therefore regret to announce that stage 2 load shedding remains a high probability for tomorrow (Sunday),” the statement said.