Cape Town - Just over a month into the 2023/24 financial year, Eskom has spent R3 billion to burn diesel to keep the lights on during load shedding as at the first week of May.
It is almost triple the amount spent in the first three months of 2022 when R1.3bn was incurred to buy diesel.
DA MP Farhat Essack wrote to Minister in the Presidency for Electricity, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, asking about the total amount that Eskom set aside in its budget for the current financial year to buy diesel for the open-cycle gas turbines (OCGT) and the amount that has been spent to date.
Ramakgopa said that Eskom has spent R3bn of the budgeted R19.6bn.
“The budget available for the Eskom open-cycle gas turbines for the 2023/24 financial year is R19.6bn, including (IPP) Independent Power Producers OCGT spend.
“The year-to-date spend for the 2023/24 financial year, as of May 8, 2023, is R3bn,” he said.
He recently told the National Council of Provinces that R30bn will be spent on burning diesel to keep the lights on during load shedding with R8bn dedicated to purchase diesel and R22bn will be directed to buy diesel from the R254bn relief funds for Eskom.
In a separate question, DA MP Ghaleb Cachalia asked Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan about the number of litres of diesel that Eskom used for the purposes of power generation in the last two financial years and the total cost of the diesel used in each of the years.
Gordhan said that a total of 571 295 617 litres of diesel was used in the 2021/22 financial year.
In the financial year ending in March 2023, a total of 937 508 149 litres of diesel was used.
“The total cost of diesel consumption in the financial year 2021/22 was R6.4bn and R2.3bn in the financial year 2022/23,” he said.
However, Gordhan said the R6.4bn included the rebate of R2.2bn, which was retrospectively written off for the financial year 2021/22 in 2022/23.
“Excluding the rebate, the total cost of diesel consumption was R8.7bn,” he said.
The expenditure on diesel comes as Eskom on Sunday announced that due to the lower demand and improved available generation capacity, Stage 2 load shedding would be implemented from 4pm on Sunday until 5am this on Monday and thereafter load shedding will be suspended until 4pm.
“Stage 4 will resume at 4pm until 5am on Tuesday, followed by Stage 1 until 4pm. This pattern will be repeated daily until further notice.”
According to Eskom, breakdowns have reduced to 15 846 megawatts of generating capacity while the generating capacity out of service for planned maintenance was 2 239MW.
“Over the past 24 hours, a generating unit each at Kendal, Kriel, Matla and two generating units at Lethabo power stations were returned to service. Cahora Bassa was returned to service during the same period after a failure on Friday.”
A generation unit each at Arnot, Camden and Medupi power stations were taken out of service due to breakdowns. “The further delays in returning to service a generating unit at Grootvlei, Hendrina, Majuba and Tutuka power stations are contributing to the current capacity constraints,” the power utility said.
Ramokgopa has denied that Stages 7 and 8 of load shedding have been experienced since he assumed office, when asked by IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa.
The minister said Stage 6 was the highest stage of load shedding to be implemented in South Africa as at midday of May 8.
“Stage 7 or 8 load shedding has never been implemented … On occasion, load curtailment, up to Stage 4, has been implemented in conjunction with Stage 6 load shedding,” he said.
Ramokgopa also said each stage of load curtailment was approximately 5% of the large customer demand with Stage 4 load curtailment being up to 1000 Megawatt of demand that was removed from the power system.
Pressed by IFP MP Themba Msimang on whether he has found that the possibility of Stage 8 of load shedding is looming closer than the possibility of the load shedding crisis being handled, Ramakgopa hinted at the eventuality.
“The winter outlook indicates an increased risk of supply shortfall against expected demand, with our worst-case scenario indicating that load shedding could intensify to stage 8 if our interventions are unsuccessful.”