Eskom looks to outside expertise for help to keep the lights on

Electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said plans that had been put in motion were beginning to bear fruit. Oupa Mokoena /Independent Media

Electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said plans that had been put in motion were beginning to bear fruit. Oupa Mokoena /Independent Media

Published Oct 24, 2023


Given ongoing challenges with partial load losses and showing little improvement since May, Eskom is looking to outside expertise for help.

In an update on the Energy Action Plan, Electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa on Monday said plans that had been put in motion were beginning to bear fruit.

“We are beginning to illustrate how it is possible to come out of load shedding. For us to get to a period where we have 365 days of no load shedding, it starts with one day of no load shedding. We are getting closer to where we want to be.

“We are not yet there, (but) we have turned a corner, the available generation is going up, consistent performance. We are beginning to bridge on a consistent basis 30 000 MW.

The idea of going below 12 000 of unplanned capacity loss factor is real,” he said.

Ramokgopa noted that the issue of partial load losses needed attention.

“You can see we have not made significant improvements since May, that’s why the team is looking at internal and outside expertise to help us especially, at those power stations notorious during summer periods to lose a lot of MW, as a result of ambient temperature, in this instance, I am referring to Matimba, Kendal and Kriel.

I’m confident over a period of time, we’ll bring this down,” Ramokgopa said.

Emphasising the power utility’s intention to decrease its reliance on Open Cycle Gas Turbines (OCGT), which has seen Eskom spend large sums on diesel, Eskom generation executive, Eric Shunmagum said the OCGT consumption for last month against the budget was “much less usage which is good news not only for Eskom’s bottom line but for the country”.

“The OCGT is there to support and as a trade-off against load shedding, but with improved performance from generation, we are seeing less consumption. We will be using the OCGT during morning and evening peak to balance the system but as we start to bridge the 13 000 and aspire to the 12 000 we will be sitting in a better space,” he said.

Meanwhile the provincial government on Monday launched an electricity wheeling toolkit, which aims to support municipalities to “fast-track the implementation of third-party electricity wheeling”.

This as provincial government said municipalities are concerned that third-party electricity wheeling will affect their revenue.

Wheeling is the delivery of energy from a generator to an end-user located in another area through the use of an existing distribution or transmission networks, for example an IPP solar farm based in the Northern Cape selling its energy to a corporate company in Gauteng, and the electricity is delivered using Eskom’s transmission network and the municipal distribution network.

The Western Cape Government’s toolkit provides a third-party wheeling implementation guide and contains spreadsheets to assist municipalities in setting fair tariffs for electricity wheeled through their distribution systems and standardised templates for necessary agreements with third parties.

Speaking on other wheeling pilot projects currently underway in the province, Infrastructure MEC, Tertuis Simmers said: “We expect the release of the toolkit to ramp up the rate at which Western Cape municipalities enable the connection of private electricity generators to private consumers, mitigate the impact of load shedding, make more independent power producers’ renewable energy available to consumers, as well as reduce the cost of supply.”

Cape Times