File image: Electricity power lines and cooling towers at Eskom’s Kendal coal-fired power station in Delmas, Mpumalanga.

CAPE TOWN -  Things have turned around for Eskom. In 2015, power supply was a major concern, resulting in SA citizens experiencing load shedding moments.  Now Eskom has to manage surplus capacity, Eskom's Interim Group Chief Executive Johny Dladla said.

Plant availability has improved from 69.9% in 2015 to 77.3% at the end of March this year, this resulted from the additional new generating capacity added from Medupi, Ingula and Kusile power stations jointly with diligent fleet maintenance, Eskom statement revealed.

The power utility also reported that conforming to strict plant maintenance programme has resulted in a reduction in unplanned maintenance and unforeseen breakdowns.
 “In terms of our existing Generation Sustainability Strategy, we aim to achieve 80% plant availability, 10% planned maintenance and 10% unplanned maintenance by 2020,” said Dladla.
To manage the surplus capacity, Dladla said Eskom has adopted an aggressive sales volume growth to support economic growth by encouraging an annual growth of 2.1% in local demand and 8% in export sales over the next five years, the statement read.
He said: “We set out with the aim of stabilising and re-energising our business for longer-term sustainability and growth, by setting aggressive goals for progress. We shall continue with our rigorous programme of planned maintenance, to ensure security of power supply, while also minimising the use of open cycle gas turbines. We are already reaping the rewards.”

Here is the breakdown of recent plant improvements:
All four units at Ingula, with total installed capacity of 1 332MW, are now in commercial operation. 

Medupi Unit 5 was synchronised on 8 September 2016. The unit, with installed capacity of 794MW, achieved commercial operation on 3 April 2017, after completing performance, reliability and compliance tests. 

After the synchronisation of Kusile Unit 1 on 26 December 2016, the unit achieved full load during March 2017, while testing continues. 

The project is working towards commercial operation of the unit.  Medupi Unit 4 was also synchronised on 31 May 2017.
“Eskom is ideally positioned to support the economic recovery of South Africa and enable industrial growth across Southern Africa. We will build on the momentum of our performance and efficiency improvements over the recent years and become a more customer-centric organisation that partners with key sectors to increase industrial activity, electricity consumption and job creation,” said Dladla