Eskom CEO gives load shedding outlook for South Africa this week

Eskom chief executive Andre de Ruyter says that there is an increased risk of load shedding in South Africa over the coming days as the embattled power utility grapples with unplanned outages.

In a media briefing on Wednesday morning (17 November), de Ruyter said that total unplanned losses are now over 14,444MW, with any further breakdowns likely to result in power outages.

On Tuesday (16 November), a generating unit each at Kusile and Majuba was taken offline to repair boiler tube leaks, while a generating unit each at Kriel, Majuba and Matimba tripped. The return to service of a generating unit each at Kendal and Tutuka were also delayed.

De Ruyter said that Kendal power unit 4 is likely to return to service later today, however, there are a number of units operating at high-risk, which could lead to further issues, he said.

He said that Eskom plans to take down seven units over the weekend to address these issues. As demand over the weekends is significantly lower this is unlikely to lead to load shedding, however, further breakdowns could cause issues. These repairs should help boost capacity heading into next week, he said.

Eskom has indicated that there is a high chance of load shedding lasting over much of South Africa’s summer period. De Ruyter has previously explained that this is because the summer months are a period where the power utility conducts more maintenance.

“This is precisely in order to make available more capacity in winter when demand is higher.

“Second, the profile of demand during demand is very different. We have a very pronounced evening peak, which is quite short. Whereas in summer, there is a sustained high off-take of the demand on the system and that result in the units having to run harder for longer. That then tends to expose some of our units to more challenges,” he said.

Read: Eskom wants South Africa to take over 50% of debt: report

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Eskom CEO gives load shedding outlook for South Africa this week