‘Code red’ at Eskom for the next 6 weeks: expert

 ·15 Mar 2021

Electricity data from Eskom shows a ‘code red’ situation at the power utility for at least the next six weeks, says energy analyst Chris Yelland.

In an interview with eNCA, Yelland said that the latest round of load shedding – which started last week – was expected, and that Eskom has been warning that power cuts will continue for at least two more years.

He said that the Covid-19 pandemic ‘saved’ the country’s electricity supply to a degree as demand dropped drastically during the lockdown. This will not be the case in 2021 and South Africans should expect intermittent load shedding throughout the entire year, he said.

“It’s a combination of the same old things. The old (power) plants are getting older and are breaking down regularly.

“This is normal when you have an old plant that is being pushed hard and is not being maintained properly. Right now if we do more maintenance it actually worsens the situation in the short-term as it takes generation units off the grid.”

He added that newer plants such as Medupi and Kusile are not acting like ‘new’ plants.

While they should be running at 90%, they are running at closer to 65% or 70%, which means that they are effectively running at the same capacity as an older plant, he said.

“The reality is that maintenance can only take you so far. It’s like an old car – at some point, you have to sell it and replace it with something more reliable.

“You can keep an old car going for ages, provided you only drive it on weekends and drive it so far. But that is not what South Africa needs right now, we need workhorses.”

On Sunday, Eskom announced that its stage 2 load shedding will continue until 05h00 on Wednesday (17 March) due to further breakdowns at five more power stations.

“Eskom regrets to inform the public that the implementation of stage 2 load-shedding will continue until 05h00 on Wednesday as the generation capacity is still severely constrained,” Eskom said.

“Over the past two days, Eskom teams successfully returned a generation each at the Matimba and Medupi power stations. However, during the weekend we have suffered further breakdowns at five power station, putting further strain on the generation capacity.”

Eskom said that additional breakdowns occurred at the Tutuka, Majuba, Kusile, Matimba, and Duvha power stations, which added to the constraints caused by previous breakdowns at the Kriel and Kendal power stations.

The power utility also said that there have been delays in restoring units to service at the Hendrina and Duvha power stations.

Read: South Africa spends 10% of the year load shedding – and it could get worse

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