Eskom provides an update on the current loadshedding situation

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Eskom implemented power outages on Tuesday, 3 May 2022, with Stage 2 loadshedding continuing until 5 am on Monday, 9 May 2022.

According to the power utility, loadshedding was implemented due to depleted capacity caused by generator breakdowns, power station trips, the slow return to service of units, as well as higher demand for electricity as the colder weather settles in.

As a result of these factors, Eskom was unable to feed the entire demand for electricity on Tuesday.

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During a media briefing on Wednesday, 4 May 2022, Eskom Chief Executive Andre de Ruyter explained that the electricity supplier is working around the clock to ensure that loadshedding is suspended as soon as it is possible to do so.

He explained that the power utility’s capacity to deliver electricity currently falls short of the country’s demands.

“We have a deficit between our demand and our available generating capacity, hence the reason for us to implement stage two loadshedding. Obviously, also bearing in mind that we do not wish to deplete all of our reserves in continuously meeting excess demand, because then we will run out of diesel to fire up our open cycle gas turbines and we will also run out of capacity at our pump storage systems. These are very important back-up systems in order to prevent the far worse scenario of a total system blackout.”

The power utility’s Chief Operating Officer, Jan Oberholzer, explained that the power stations ran into major problems during and after the long weekend.

These challenges include:

  • Trips at Arnot and Duvha power stations which were returned to service.
  • The tripping of some four units at Matla, Kusile, Matimba and Duvha power stations, which were returned to service by Monday, 2 May 2022, midday.
  • On Monday, at least eight units tripped at Lethabo, Tutuka, Hendrina, Ingula and Matla power stations – removing at least 3 300MW of capacity from the grid.

Oberholzer highlighted that as Monday was a public holiday and the demand for electricity was low, Eskom managed to supply electricity demand, but the power utility still needed 16 open cycle gas turbines to take them through the evening peak.

“Unfortunately, this trend continued into Tuesday morning, with a further four generators tripping or being shut down due to breakdowns. An additional 2000MW. So, within 36 hours, the total net loss generating capacity to the system was about 4 200MW,” said Oberholzer.

The COO added that the power utility is now making use of emergency reserves due to higher winter demand.

“Despite the implementation of stage two load shedding, we are still using extensive emergency reserves to go through the morning peaks as well as the evening peaks,” Oberholzer said.

Eskom is also facing challenges with at-risk generating units, described by Acting Generation managing director, Rhulani Mathebula, as “limping” units.

According to Mathebula, Eskom currently has around 4 500MW  at risk.

“The situation remains that we are still running a very constrained system where every challenge that we experience actually results in severe constraints. So, the 4 500MW is something that we want to address. Currently, we have a unit at Kriel and Majuba that has got tube leaks, but we resolved to keep those units on load because we cannot afford to take them off. The unfortunate thing is when those units then take themselves off as the defect deteriorates,” he said.

Mathebula added, however, that there are several generating units expected back in service over the next few days which will relieve pressure on the system.

The forecast currently is returning the units that are down, Eskom has three machines that are expected to return to service on Wednesday, 4 May 2022.

The power utility also has a further eight machines, to the tune of 3 700MW, that will be brought back between Wednesday and over the weekend. Mathebula said this will enable Eskom to deal with loadshedding.

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