Eskom to present winter plan amid load shedding suspension

The Minister in the Presidency responsible for Electricity, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa briefing the media on the implementation of the Energy Action Plan. Supplied: GCIS

The Minister in the Presidency responsible for Electricity, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa briefing the media on the implementation of the Energy Action Plan. Supplied: GCIS

Published Apr 23, 2024


Eskom will deliver its electricity outlook for the winter period at the end of this week, on the back of 26 consecutive days of uninterrupted suspension of load shedding due to sustained generation capacity and adequate emergency reserves.

This was confirmed by Eskom's acting general manager in the office of the group CEO, Eric Shunmagum, on Monday during a media briefing on the implementation of the Energy Action Plan.

Shunmagum said the struggling power utility will present its Winter Plan on Friday as the Energy Availability Factor (EAF) of a number of Eskom’s power stations was improving.

“We will be presenting three scenarios. Our base scenario will be one of having 14 000MW of unplanned outage and 3 500MW of planned maintenance,” Shunmagum said.

“In terms of EAFs of specific power stations, Medupi is at 75% and Lethabo at 72%, and we aim to have most of our power stations above 70% in the next two years,” he said.

Shunmagum said the load factor of the cheaper water-powered peaking power pumped storage schemes was currently 20.17%, but trended around 23%.

During the briefing, Minister in the Presidency for Electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said Eskom’s performance over the past few weeks was a result of concerted and deliberate plans by the power utility and the government to deal with load shedding.

Ramokgopa highlighted the year-on-year reduction in the use of expensive diesel-powered Open Cycle Gas Turbines (OCGT) in keeping the lights on.

Though Eskom’s annual results for financial year ending 31 March 2024 will be published later in the year, OCGTs spent increased two-fold to R29.7 billion in 2023, up from R14.7bn in 2022.

“The load factor of the expensive OCGT has been reduced to 5.7% currently from 18% in May last year. This means that Eskom needs to spend less on diesel and that ultimately will benefit the consumer,” Ramokgopa said.

“There’s been significant recovery as a result of the execution of the Generation Operational Recovery Plan as a result of, first, at the national level, the Energy Action Plan.

“We are beginning to see the kind of improvement that we are desiring. The period of March, the Unplanned Capacity Loss Factor – the rate at which we are losing these units, the rate at which these units are not efficient – is coming down.”

Ramokgopa said the improvement in Eskom’s power generation was reflected in the improvement of the EAF to 58.70% in week 15 of 2024, from only 49.99% in week 15 of 2023.

He was at pains to stress that the current sequence of 25 days without load shedding had nothing to do with electioneering ahead of the May 29 elections.

“Some political commentators have said the improvement is due to Eskom keeping the lights on at all costs, but this is not so as the reduction in peaking power usage of the OCGTs demonstrate,” Ramokgopa said.

“Rather it is due to the hard work of the Eskom team to improve maintenance and that is why unplanned outages are now below 14 000MW. However, one must not lose sight of the fact that the performance of the grid is a bouncing ball and there will be occasional setbacks.”