Eskom could move to stage 3 load shedding or higher if more generation units fail.
By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
Eskom has warned of a move to stage 3 load shedding or higher should it continue to see further breakdowns in its coal fleets.
In a media briefing on Wednesday (22 May), chief executive Andre de Ruyter said the power utility was grappling with an ‘unstable and unpredictable’ power system which has led to extended load shedding.
He added that the country was facing a shortfall of some 1,100MW on Wednesday evening, after it took longer than expected to return some units back online. This means continued stage 2 load shedding is necessary, he said.
Current outage data shows Eskom has the following outages:
2,967MW out in planned maintenance;
7,514MW in total unplanned outages;
6,956MW in partial losses;
Total unplanned losses of 14,4470MW;
A forecast for evening peak of 32,140MW leaving a shortfall of just over 1,100MW including all of OCGTS.
Eskom chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer said that Eskom had managed to avoid load shedding over the last three weeks by relying on its generators, with the issue exacerbated by extremely high evening demand.
He added that a number of failures in the last week resulted in diesel reserves being used faster than they could be replenished, and were used to such as extent that they could not be replenished over the weekend.
"We are unfortunately at a point now where we need to conserve dam and diesel levels and contain load shedding to stage 2," he said. "Should we continue to see further breakdowns in the coal fleet the country could see stage 3 load shedding or higher in the coming days."
Oberholzer said Eskom was particularly wary of a coming cold front this week which is expected to impact both generation and lead to increased electricity demand.
However, if all goes according to plan, Eskom plans to return a further five units online by the weekend. This combined with the extended stage 2 load shedding should help the country going into the next week, he said.
He added that South Africa needs additional capacity or risk facing a similar situation going forward.