Thursday, 21 April 2022 09:59

Eskom remains on track to end load shedding by the weekend.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Eskom chief executive Andre de Ruyter says the power utility is seeing a steady recovery in its systems, with several big energy units coming back online as scheduled.

In a media briefing on Thursday morning (21 April), de Ruyter said Eskom was now aiming to reduce load shedding from stage 3 to stage 2 this evening after the evening peak time has concluded.

The power utility forecasts lifting load shedding in its entirety on Friday evening – subject to any unforeseen breakdowns, De Ruyter said.

Eskom moved to stage 3 load shedding on Wednesday (20 April) at 22h00.  This comes after six generating units were returned to service over the last 24 hours, and three more are expected to return on Thursday.

The power utility has warned the country could have more than 100 days of electricity blackouts this year because of outages. However, it has downplayed any fears of a total blackout across the country.

"We have this tool (load shedding) at our disposal. We have significant buffer capacity in the load shedding system before we approximate even close to a total system blackout. We are currently sitting at Stage 4, the load shedding system provides for a further reduction in load [up to] Stage 8. We still do have headroom in the system to allow us to avoid a total blackout.

"So I would caution against speculation in this regard. I would caution against fear-mongering and stoking speculation and fear in this regard. We do have plans in place. We have the capability of recovering, and we do not anticipate this as a credible risk at this point in time," he said on Wednesday.

De Ruyter said separately that Eskom has spent more than R720-million on diesel for its open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs) so far this month in an effort to reduce the impact of load shedding. The utility has burned through 48.5 million litres of diesel in the first three weeks of April.

In the financial year ended 31 March 2022, Eskom spent R7-billion on diesel for its own OCGT plants, and a further R3.5-billion on diesel used by independently owned OCGTs.

For people living in the major metros, load shedding schedules are available here:

For access to other load shedding schedules, Eskom has made them available on loadshedding.eskom.co.za.

Smartphone users can also download the app EskomSePush to receive push notifications when load shedding is implemented, as well as the times the area you are in will be off.

Livestream Video Below:

Video Courtesy of ENCA.

Meanwhile Karpowership, the world’s biggest supplier of floating gas-fired power plants, is expanding its generation capacity by 50% to tap global demand even as it struggles to get projects going in potentially its biggest market.

The Turkish company is poised to start generating 1.1GW of power in Ivory Coast, Brazil, the Dominican Republic and New Caledonia, a French territory, this year. Yet the three projects it won in South Africa have stalled, with 1.2GW of planned capacity mired in legal battles and environmental controversies.

While Karpowership struggles in South Africa — the company won the bids in April last year — the projects elsewhere are expected to start up in well under a year. In South Africa, it’s yet to get environmental approvals and hasn’t managed to sign agreements with the national power and port utilities. The award of the contracts has also attracted opposition from environmental activists who want the country to transition to renewable energy faster.

As we have been working tirelessly to reach financial close in South Africa, we are about to deliver similar solutions all around the world," Kurt Morais, Karpowership's corporate relations manager, said in a presentation on Tuesday in Cape Town, where the company’s 278m Karmol LNGT Powership Asia floating storage regasification unit docked to refuel en route from Singapore to Rio de Janeiro.

The company, a unit of Karadeniz Holding, already operates gas-fired powerships in countries ranging from Cuba to Ghana and Indonesia and also has some renewable capacity. It’s considering participating in solar power projects in South Africa awarded in tenders run by the government and those planned by the City of Cape Town.

South Africa is desperately trying to boost capacity as Eskom struggles to meet demand with ageing and unreliable coal plants. The utility cut 4GW of electricity from the national grid for a second day on Wednesday, and may implement more than 100 days of power cuts this year.

While the energy ministry has bemoaned the slow progress in getting Karpowership’s ships connected to the grid, activists and renewable energy producers have accused the government of dragging its feet in rather taking advantage of abundant solar and wind resources.

South Africa, which relies on coal for more than 80% of its electricity, is the world’s 13th-biggest producer of climate-damaging emissions. While natural gas produces fewer pollutants than coal, environmentalists say its use will delay a transition to greener energy.

Facilities operated by Karpowership consist of a floating storage re-gasification unit, a vessel known as an FSRU that stores liquefied natural gas at -160ºC, and a powership several hundred metres away, which uses the gas to generate as much as 450MW of electricity.

The ship in Cape Town can store 125 000 cubic metres of LNG, enough to power a 450MW powership operating 18 hours a day for 40 days. The FSRU is then refilled by an LNG carrier.