Minister of Electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa has warned that the country will continue experiencing rotational power cuts in the medium term though Eskom was working on a solution to reduce their severity.
South Africa experienced three days of full electricity supply during the first nine days of 2024, but Eskom quickly resumed its rotational power cuts.
This comes as Eskom has also warned of severe load shedding this year, highlighting that demand will exceed available electricity each day, worse than in 2023, though it successfully maintained minimal load shedding during the festive season.
Ramokgopa yesterday said the majority of Eskom’s generation units remained unreliable, but this was being addressed through routine planned maintenance.
He said that although there would be days of no load shedding, the country was still going to experience power cuts.
“We do accept that the majority of these units still remain unreliable, we are addressing the planned maintenance. The key measure there is that when the units come back from planned maintenance, we should not have repeat failures. This is what the generation team managed to do,” Ramokgopa said.
“We will have periods of days of no load shedding and there will be days of load shedding. Eskom has announced its summer outlook and it makes the point that we should not be at more than Stage 4 level of load shedding.
“We have been working during the festive season to ensure that we address issues of the fleet to continue to perform but also readying the fleet to ensure that once there is a ramp up of demand, the units are able to return back to service and remain in service while delivering efficient megawatts.”
Eskom yesterday implemented Stage 2 load shedding indefinitely after the setback experienced in returning two generating units to service as well as the loss of three generating units necessitated.
Unplanned outages were at 14 953MW of generating capacity, while the capacity out of service for planned maintenance was 7 638MW.
Eskom said power stations managers and their teams were working tirelessly to ensure that 2 700MW of generating capacity was returned to service before the end of the week.
Ramokgopa said while demand was low during the week 22- 29 December 2023, Eskom was working to address issues of its fleet and used the opportunity to carry out planned maintenance.
He said Eskom’s energy availability factor was 55.4% for the year to date and the utility had seen an “exceptionally good performance” by units outside the issues of reduced demand.
“What we’ve seen is that the system has been healthy,” he said.
Ramokgopa also reiterated that Unit 1 at Koeberg Nuclear power station was now on full load after it passed the full load rejection test on 30 December.
Eskom is applying for the extension of Koeberg’s licence for another 20 years with the refurbishment of Unit 1 and Unit 2 as the station’s operating licence expires in July this year.
“We had to do a significant amount of work to meet the regulatory requirements and compliance so we can get the licence extensions. As part of this robust exercise, Unit 1 in Koeberg is now on full load. It has passed the full load tests,” Ramokgopa said.
“Another development is the synchronisation of Kusile Power Station’s unit 5. That power is intermittent. It is doing a number of tests, and it will go into full commercial operation for an average period of six months so they continue to do the tests but as they continue to do the tests, it does give us the megawatts.
“Unit 5 is running at 60% and there are a lot of things that need to be done such as balancing and optimisation tests so that we are sure when the unit is in commercial operation so essentially giving us megawatts uninterrupted.”