Durban - The fear of load-shedding is behind us.
Power utility Eskom said the security of power supply was no longer a concern - as was the case two years ago - and they had now shifted their priorities to "managing surplus capacity".
Interim Group Chief Executive Johnny Dladla said as a result of additional new generating capacity added from Medupi, Ingula and Kusile power stations and the rigorous fleet maintenance programme, plant availability had improved from 69.9% in 2015 to 77.3% at the end of March this year. Adherence to a strict plant maintenance programme has also resulted in a drastic reduction in unplanned maintenance and the number of breakdowns over the past two years.
“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.
“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,” Dladla said.
Eskom said all four units at Ingula, with total installed capacity of 1 332MW, were now in commercial operation. Medupi Unit 5 was synchronised on 8 September 2016. The unit, with installed capacity of 794MW, achieved commercial operation in April, after completing performance, reliability and compliance tests. After the synchronisation of Kusile Unit 1 last December, 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 in May 2017.
The power utility said a total of 585.4km transmission lines were constructed during the year and they had commissioned 2 300MVA transmission transformer capacity, both exceeding the year-end target. Eskom said the 765kV network to the Western Cape was completed, signifying a significant milestone towards improving grid stability.
“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