File picture: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko
File picture: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

EAF report explains why there hasn't been load shedding since 22 February

By Helmo Preuss Time of article published Mar 4, 2020

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Johannesburg -  The Energy Availability Factor (EAF) report released by Eskom on a weekly basis shows why there has been no load shedding since 22 February as the EAF has held above 62%. 

Although the EAF eased to 62.94% in the week ending 1 March from 63.85% in the previous week, it held above 62%, which seems to be the measure that allows Eskom to maintain power supply on a consistent basis.

The weekly report gives a daily analysis as well and that is even more encouraging. 

This showed that the operating reserve margin between available capacity including non-commercial capacity, which are the units at the new power plants that are still in a testing phase, varied between 9.5% on Wednesday 26 February and 17.4% on Friday 28 February. 

The average reserve margin for the week was 12.7%, which is not that far from the international benchmark of having a 15% reserve margin.

Unplanned outages remain high, which is why the Eskom media team in its daily notice keeps on saying that: “While we do not expect to implement loadshedding today, the possibility of loadshedding remains. We are currently utilising emergency generation reserves to supplement supply. The generation system remains constrained, vulnerable and unpredictable. Owing to the high unplanned outages or breakdowns, there is a possibility that we may have to implement loadshedding at short notice should there be an undesirable change in the generation system performance.”

Unplanned outages have nevertheless eased to 24.48% of capacity in week 9 from 29.73% in week 1, but remain above the 21.57% achieved in 2019. While unplanned outages remain high, it makes it difficult for Eskom to increase its planned maintenance, but there has nevertheless been an improvement to an average of 11.33% in the first nine weeks of 2020 from an average of only 9.94% in 2019.           

Statistic South Africa data for December 2019 showed that electricity consumption continued to decline on a year-on-year (y/y) basis as the repeated load shedding episodes instituted by Eskom since November 2018 has sapped business confidence. In December 2019, consumption declined by 4.9% y/y after a 3.1% y/y drop in November and a 2.1% y/y fall in October. 

In 2019 there were only two months when consumption showed positive y/y increases. In 2019, consumption fell by 1.9% compared with a 0.9% increase in 2018, when only April showed a y/y decline.

BUSINESS REPORT 

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