Maintenance needed to boost life of Eskom power plants

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Deputy President David Mabuza says work is underway to ensure that Eskom complies with its responsibility of maintaining power plants. 

Responding to oral questions in the National Council of Provinces on Thursday, Mabuza said there is a need for planned mid-life refurbishment of power stations to ensure that they meet their life expectancy. 

The Deputy President had been asked what critical asset maintenance strategies have been put in place to ensure that there is adequate grid reliability for viable electricity supply and asset lifetime. 

Responding to the question, Mabuza said it was concerning that Eskom’s fleet performance has since deteriorated due to a lack of maintenance and refurbishment over the years, greatly compromising the security of electricity supply. 

He said the situation was also worsened by coal shortages and the supply of substandard coal, among other things.  

Mabuza said while Eskom has a responsibility to conduct maintenance of its grid assets according to published standards that are benchmarked with international best practices, there have been weaknesses in terms of adherence to published standards. 

“…As government, we are working very hard to ensure that Eskom reverts to the compliance with these published standards. 

“With an ageing power station fleet, we need for planned mid-life refurbishment to increase and meet the life expectations of these power plants. Critical areas that need work have been identified and are being funded and resourced,” he said.   

Work underway to improve the performance of power plants 

Mabuza said currently, the generation of coal-powered power stations stands at the maximum available power of 36 221 megawatts. 

He said work is currently underway to ensure that interruptions in the performance of coal power stations is minimised to avoid disruptions and load shedding. 

“Accelerated economic growth, rising population and the expansion of human settlements and industrial development zones must be matched by targeted measures on the side of government to cater for energy security needs. 

“Government remains committed to ensure that Eskom is supported to address persistent sustainability challenges, including unsustainable levels of debt, underinvestment and inadequate maintenance of plants, resulting in energy supply interruptions. 

“To this end, Eskom has developed a detailed turnaround plan to address its structural, operational and structural challenges. This entails a clear focus on improving efficiencies, reducing costs, optimising plant performance and enhancing government systems,” he said. –