Eskom's power system to ‘meet winter demand’

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Eskom Interim Group Chief Executive Phakamani Hadebe says Eskom is committed to keeping the lights on this winter, despite low coal stockpiles at six of its power stations.

Addressing the media at a briefing at Megawatt Park in Sunninghill on Thursday, Hadebe said coal stockpiles across all coal-fired power stations are at an average of 35 days, excluding the plants under construction - Medupi and Kusile. 

“We have implemented plans to manage a shift in plant performance and coal stock levels making load shedding unlikely this winter.

“The resilience of the power system was evidenced in March this year following a number of plant breakdowns and a number of units on scheduled maintenance. We expect several units to be back on line before the end of this month and will further strengthen the power grid ahead of the winter season,” Hadebe said.

Hadebe assured the country that plans are in place to improve coal stockpile levels at the six power stations that are currently below minimum stock level requirements.

The coal recovery plan includes securing additional coal supplies and a redirection of coal stock from other power stations’ coal yards to address the imbalance at the six power stations.

Eskom is also concluding an interim coal supply agreement with the Tegeta business Rescue practitioners to enable coal supply to Hendrina Power Station, while the business rescue process is in progress.

In addition, Eskom is currently negotiating tenders for 100 million tons of coal that is required for the next five years.

“The challenge of coal stock levels below the required target at some of our power stations is not ideal, especially as the organisation prepares for the traditionally higher energy usage period in winter.

“We have however put measures in place to mitigate the situation and if the current state does not improve, we will meticulously reassess the situation, review our plans and take the necessary action,” Hadebe said.

Improved energy levels

Eskom has maintained operational performance for the year ending March 2018, with the energy availability factor having improved to 78% from 77.3% for the previous financial year.

Generation plant performance showed a decline from September 2017, with unplanned outages for the year ending March 2018 at 10.2% -- up from 9.9% for the same period last year. 

Planned maintenance was at 10.4% for the year ending March 2018, meeting the target of 10%. Other losses were at 1.5%.

“We move into winter confident that our plants, notwithstanding anomalies, will be able to meet demand.

“We have set a target to improve plant performance and are on course to achieve a sustainably healthy electricity system by balancing maintenance and reducing unplanned breakages, plant availability of 80%, with 10% of units on planned maintenance and 10% on unplanned and other maintenance by financial year 2018/19,” Hadebe said.

During the 2017/18 financial year, 2 387MW of new generation capacity was added to the national electricity grid, exceeding the year-end target of 1 460MW.

In addition, 722.3km of new transmission lines were added, exceeding the year-end target of 677km and 2 510MVA of new substation transformer capacity exceeded the year-end target of 2 010MVA.

In the current financial year, the build programme is expected to deliver 6 382MW to be commissioned over the next 5 years 2388 MW of additional generation capacity.

“Continuing to fast-track delivery of the build programme remains a critical enabler for Eskom to support the network sufficiently and to ensure that South Africa has optimal base load capacity and transmission infrastructure to grow the South African economy,” Hadebe said.

Electricity access for all

Eskom says it is making notable strides towards achieving the goal of universal access to electricity with 215 519 new electricity connections in the 2017/18 financial year. Universal access has been reached in terms of clinics and new clinics and schools will be connected to the grid as they are built.

Hadebe said during the winter season, localised outages increase as a result of illegal electricity connections which overburden the power system.

“We ask customers to be vigilant and to report these transgressions including cable and electricity theft,” Hadebe said.

Eskom continues to focus its efforts on increasing growth in demand of electricity and ensuring sustainable revenue collection.

“Collection of municipal arrear debt remains a challenge. However, we continue with our interventions and have enlisted the support of government to enhance our efforts to recover monies owed to Eskom.

“Through a collaborative approach and relentless focus, we are on a path to stabilise the organisation and to achieve sustained success for Eskom,” Hadebe said. –

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