Loadshedding tonight and to be expected throughout the winter season

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Newcastillians are in store for another dark night, with Eskom yet again implementing Stage 2 Loadshedding from 5 pm to 10 pm on Thursday, 12 May 2022.

According to the state-owned power utility, the necessity for the loadshedding stems from a generating unit at Lethabo Power Station being taken offline for repairs on Wednesday night, 11 May 2022.

However, Eskom noted that a generation unit at Kusile and Tutuka power stations was returned to service. Additionally, the electricity supplier says, “A generation unit each at Matimba and Tutuka power stations are expected to return to service this afternoon.”

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Furthermore, Eskom is pinning its hopes on returning Koeberg and Kusile power station units to reduce pressure on the constrained power system

During Eskom’s presentation at the State of the System on Wednesday, 11 May 2022, the power utility revealed the national electricity grid remained constrained, with an elevated risk of loadshedding over the winter period, particularly during the morning and evening peaks.

During the course of the next few weeks, Eskom will hopefully return two units to service at Kusile Power Station. Additionally, Koeberg Unit 2 is expected to return by the end of June 2022. 

According to the electricity supplier, these three large generation units will add approximately 2 500MW to the power system.

In addition, Eskom pointed out that Unit 2 of the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, together with the two generation units expected to return to service following the modification and correction of the design defects on one unit, and repairs to the Flue Gas Desulphurisation technology on the other unit at the Kusile Power Station will all significantly ease the pressure in time for the high winter demand.

These Kusile units will add a combined 1 600MW to the power system while Koeberg 2 will add another 920MW when it returns to service by the end of June.  

Since January, Eskom has had to operate with only a single unit or half the capacity, of Koeberg, while the other unit has been undergoing routine refuelling and other Long-Term Operation activities.

Eskom Group Chief Executive, André de Ruyter said, “As Eskom grapples with loadshedding and other operational challenges, we remain committed to the principles of openness and transparency about our operations. As such, the State of the System update, the Eskom Data Portal and the regular media briefings give us an opportunity to provide insights about the state of the power system and keep South Africans and all stakeholders informed and enable them to plan ahead, are consistent with this commitment accountability.”

Due to low plant availability, Eskom stated that it has increasingly relied on the usage of diesel-powered open cycle gas turbines (OCGTs) to limit the implementation of loadshedding. It must be noted that from 1 January 2022 to 10 May 2022, loadshedding has been implemented for 32 days. This is six days more than the 26 days of loadshedding during the same period last year.

According to Eskom, the increase in the implementation of loadshedding came on the back of higher levels of unplanned plant breakdowns, which averaged 26% of the fleet in the period ended March 2022. During this period the energy availability factor (EAF) averaged 62%.

As we await further developments, what are your thoughts? Share your views in the comment section below.

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