Dark clouds loom over South Africa as Eskom‘s Acting CEO, Calib Cassim, announced that if a series of interventions to reduce power demands and improve reliability fail this winter, loadshedding could escalate to Stage 8.
“We anticipate a difficult winter”, stated Cassim.
He further attributed the reduced capacity to units 1, 2, and 3 of Kusile Power Station and 1 unit of Koeberg Nuclear Power Station being offline. As a result, Eskom will now enter the cold season with 3,000 megawatts (MW) less compared to last year.
“The performance of the generation fleet around the Energy Availability Factor (EAF) must be the primary focus this winter,” noted Eskom’s Acting CEO.
Presenting the winter plan, Cassim explained that Eskom aims to keep unplanned demand at least 15,000MW with the support of the system operator and energy planning.
“Maintaining this level of 15,000MW can lead to lower levels of loadshedding during morning peaks, daytime, and evening peaks,” Cassim said. However, if the interventions planned for winter fail and the Unplanned Capability Loss Factor (UCLF) reaches 18,000MW, Stage 8 load shedding during peaks becomes highly probable.
Moreover, Cassim assured that a complete grid collapse is unlikely due to interventions and control mechanisms implemented by a competent system-operated team.
“To remain in control of the grid, loadshedding is necessary,” Cassim emphasised.
Eskom is now focused on improving power station performance and the EAF, which currently stands at 52% compared to 60% in March.
In the medium term, Eskom plans to recover and bring three units at Kusile online by November 2023. Additionally, during the winter period, the utility will increase the use of high open cycle gas turbines (OCGTs) within the allocated budget and debt relief. OCGTs are power stations primarily using diesel as their primary resource.
Demand-side management (DSM) plays a crucial role in Eskom’s strategy, effectively managing customers’ energy consumption to reduce peak demand or overall consumption during specific periods.
Increasing capacity and megawatts in the electricity sector is vital for stability and reliability, according to Cassim. He commended Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe’s renewable energy plans, including 5,000MW of renewables, 1,230MW of battery storage, and 3,000MW of gas.
Moreover, Eskom has allocated capital expenditure across the generation, transmission, and distribution groups for the next three years.
However, Mpho Makwana, Eskom Board Chairperson, anticipates a more constrained power system in the upcoming colder winter season. He emphasised the need for a coordinated effort among stakeholders to manage loadshedding, acknowledging its adverse impact on South Africans and the economy.
As South Africa braces for a challenging winter, Eskom says that it remains committed to mitigating the intensity of loadshedding while drawing lessons from global experiences.
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