The biggest problem facing Eskom is its inability to build up an emergency electricity margin – which could result in the current load shedding crisis becoming a more frequent occurrence.
This is according to Department of Public Enterprises spokesperson, Adrian Lackay, who was speaking to CapeTalk on Monday (18 March).
Lackay said that Eskom often faced unplanned outages but this has been compounded by the fact that the power utility’s ability to build up an emergency margin has diminished since last year – resulting in the current crisis.
“Our bigger problem going forward is how do you restore Eskom’s capability to generate enough electricity to have a reserve margin so that when a crisis hits we don’t sit where we are now,” he said.
“They have installed capacity of some 45,000MW, the country needs about 29,000 – 30,000MW per day, but because of the poor state of our plant fleet, we hardly reach 30,000 a day.
“If we can get to 31,000 or 32,000MW a day then you have 2,000 – 3,000MW reserve margin which can bail you out of a crisis when one hits, but Eskom has lost this capability.”
Lackay added that Eskom’s biggest priority right now was getting its stations online to help alleviate stage 4 load shedding.
South Africa faced its fifth consecutive day of power cuts on Monday, with Eskom warning that it plans to continue with load shedding until Wednesday.
Eskom implemented stage 4 load-shedding this weekend, blaming the “loss of an additional 900MW from Mozambique imports” for the electricity shortage.
Damage caused by tropical cyclone Idai means that both high-voltage, direct current (HVDC) lines from the Cahora-Bassa hydroelectric generation station to the Apollo substation in Gauteng are down.
The estimated time to restore these links is not known, as the damaged lines are inaccessible and the extent of the damage is unknown.