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Friday, 26 April 2024 11:50

Eskom anticipates minimal winter loadshedding amid generation improvements.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

The newly appointed Eskom group CEO Dan Marokane has provided assurances that loadshedding during the upcoming winter months will likely be contained at Stage 2, thanks to improvements in generation performance across the coal-fired power station fleet.

Eskom has marked 30 consecutive days without loadshedding, which Marokane said on Friday was a "good moment" to reflect on. He attributed the achievement to the success of the generation recovery plan (GRP) implemented by the State-owned power utility since April 2023.  

Between April 2023 and March 2024, Eskom recorded a 9% year-on-year reduction in unplanned losses and a 19% decrease in unit trips.

In addition to the no-loadshedding trend in April, Eskom's diesel spend averages 50% lower compared with the same time last year.

The current load factor of 9% compares with a load factor of 18% in April last year.

Eskom anticipates allocating a R30 billion budget for diesel procurement in the current financial year.

The Department of Public Enterprises recently revealed that Eskom has spent R64.78 billion on diesel in the past five years – since May 2019.

The power utility, which burns diesel to power the open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs) to reduce the stages of load shedding, spent R23 billion in the past year.

Presenting the utility's Winter 2024 outlook on Friday (26 April), Marokane pointed out a considerable shift in the unreliability outlook, with a downward revision of 1 000 MW in the base case scenario.

Eskom targets a further reduction of 1.7 GW in unplanned losses during winter, while intensifying efforts in demand management initiatives.

Reflecting on Eskom's efforts since the previous winter, Marokane said the utility's investment in maintenance and disciplined execution of the GRP had resulted in a gradual reduction in unplanned losses.

However, he said the current unplanned losses of 14.2 GW were still unsustainable. Eskom aims to reduce load losses to below 14 GW to ensure greater stability in power supply. 

Energy availability

Addressing Eskom's low energy availability factor (EAF), Eskom chair Mteto Nyati said that, while the power utility missed the target of 65% EAF by the end of March 2024, it actually came close.

He said that EAF is currently around 61%, which is close to where the group expected it to be.

Eskom's persistently low EAF was attributed to the high levels of maintenance being done, which is slowly being reduced in preparation for winter demand.

Group executive for generation, Bheki Nxumalo, said that EAF is a function of losses and maintenance and needs to be understood in the context.

The group is still targeting 70% EAF by 2025.

Nxumalo said that performance should improve moving forward as more capacity comes online, including approximately 800MW from Medupi unit 4 in September.

Elections

Eskom has also entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) to ensure adequate plans are in place for electricity supply.

"We are working with the IEC to make sure that from a planning point of view, we have adequate plans to enable them to successfully deliver an election," said Monde Bala, group executive for distribution.

Responding to questions about the MoU, Marokane said there is nothing untoward about such collaborations of national importance.

Bala also echoed that this is a standard process to follow for a major national event. "We want to make sure the event goes through as hassle-free as possible. I would imagine that the IEC has similar MOUs with other major role players, such as the telcos and people that provide data," he added.

Bala said the aim is to ensure that from an emergency response point of view, Eskom has its ducks in a row.