Intense power cuts are set to be another blow to the country’s economy after Minister in the Presidency for Electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa recently disclosed that South Africa could be losing R1 billion a day as a result of load shedding.
A shortage in generation capacity due a loss of cluster units crippled the power grid leading to the intense power cuts.
In order to replenish emergency reserves in preparation for the week ahead, Stage 3 load shedding had to be implemented.
It is expected to remain unchanged until Monday; thereafter stages 1 and 3 will alternate in the morning and afternoon from Tuesday until Wednesday.
“Unplanned outages are currently at 16 264MW of generating capacity including delays at Lethabo Power Station. The capacity out of service for planned maintenance is 6 606MW. Approximately 3 700MW of generating capacity is anticipated to return to service by Tuesday evening.
Eskom teams are working tirelessly to ensure that these additional generating units are returned to service as soon as possible,” the power utility said.
The update was given on Sunday afternoon after Ramokgopa expressed his disappointment over Eskom's recent performance.
During the week he had told the portfolio committee on public enterprises that load shedding was an existential problem both in economic and socio terms as the SA economy could be losing R1 billion a day depending on the intensity of load shedding.
About the current state of energy, he said on Sunday: “We experienced a significant failure of a cluster of units at Eskom.If we had not experienced that, you would not be seeing the kind of intensity of load shedding that we are experiencing. We expect that five units should come back by tonight (Sunday).
“Duvha unit number 5, Majuba unit 5 is already on load, and we are expecting Lethabo unit 4 to come on stream by about midnight.
Then we are also expecting about two units to come back tomorrow (Monday) and that’s Duvha unit number 6 and Arnot unit 3,” said Ramokgopa.
He also acknowledged that Unit 1 at Koeberg Power Station was successfully synchronised to the grid on Saturday, after almost a year.
According to Ramokgopa, they were planning to extend the life of the Koeberg Power Station by about 20 years.
Energy activist Peter Becker said the licence for Koeberg expires in July 2024 and can only be extended with the authorisation of the National Nuclear Regulator.
“That authorisation has not been given, and not even the required public consultation process has been completed. The minister therefore does not have the authority to say, ‘We are extending the life’, since this would be undermining the independence and authority of the regulator.”
Becker said while Unit 1 was back online, Eskom mentioned that it will need to go off-line again for 200 or more days starting in July 2024.
“The job was initially promised to take 5 months, and now it will be more than triple that.
The costs have also escalated, but Eskom refuses to answer questions about the projected total cost of the refurbishment project, which includes replacing many components including a contract to replace the three steam generators per unit.
“As for taking unit 2 off-line now, just as we enter stage 3 load shedding, it is very difficult to understand that decision.
Firstly, if it is kept running for now it would alleviate one stage of load shedding and secondly, it is quite common for a newly refurbished unit to experience teething problems and to go off-line without warning, as has happened before at Koeberg,” said Becker.