POWER utility Eskom raised the white flag yesterday over the continuity of load shedding as it confirmed the possibility of more blackouts in the face of unplanned shut-downs of its various power plants besieged by technical breakdowns.
This as long-serving Generation manager Philip Dukashe tendered his resignation, effective the month-end, from the organisation he has served for 29 years as head of power supply, leaving Eskom to rely heavily on open-cycle gas turbines over the winter period.
As many as as 104 days of load shedding are expected from May to the end of September, with the utility having already implemented 32 days of load shedding between January 1 and May 11.
Eskom has so far spent more than R6.4 billion to buy diesel for the open-cycle gas turbines in order to limit the intensity of load shedding, in what has been confirmed as the worst-ever load-shedding year.
“We continue to see a varied performance by our operating divisions year-to-date, with generally good performance from Transmission and Distribution. The unsatisfactory performance from the Generation division continues,” Eskom said yesterday.
Eskom said the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station Unit 1 continued to operate safely and had been online for 196 days today.
Its Unit 2 is on point with a normal maintenance and refuelling outage during which the reactor vessel head and the three steam generators (SGR) were to be replaced.
The organisation said due to the significant risk to the grid posed by delays in carrying out the SGR installation according to the outage plan, it had decided to postpone the SGR to the next refuelling outage. The reactor vessel head replacement continued during the current outage
Transmission’s managing director, Segomoco Scheppers, again confirmed that there could be as many as 104 days of load shedding during the period from May to the end of September, with the utility having already implemented 32 days of load shedding up to the middle of May.
Eskom has again highlighted the risk of load shedding during the current winter period, during which it will rely heavily on the country’s expensive diesel-fuelled open-cycle gas turbines to either avoid rotational cuts or reduce the intensity of such cuts.
“The generation side of the business remains a concern, specifically the availability of the coal power stations. The end-March 2022 Energy Availability Factor (EAF) at 62 percent is below the targeted performance level.
“A key contributor to the low EAF was high levels of planned maintenance over the summer months. The high levels of unplanned outages remain a concern. However, we continue to drive our reliability maintenance recovery programme to reduce these,” Eskom said.
The utility said due to the system constraints, it had used more that the anticipated levels of diesel for its open-cycle gas turbines.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE