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Eskom CEO claims performance has improved

By Staff Writer
By Jessica Anne Wood, journalist, Justmoney

Eskom released its Quarterly State of the System Report at a media briefing on Wednesday. According to the report, Eskom has be able to meet more than 96% of the country’s electricity requirements for the last quarter, and has made progress into the maintenance backlog.
Brian Molefe, Eskom acting CEO, said: “The focus of our maintenance drive is to ensure long-term reliability and sustainability of our power generating plants. Since December last year, the availability of Eskom’s plant performance has improved from 65% to 75%. 
“Going forward, we plan to continue with our maintenance programme in an effort to reduce the backlog that has accumulated over the past few years. Most importantly, we plan to execute the maintenance drive without having to implement load shedding.”
The highlights of the report
According to the report, Eskom has been able to supply an average of up to 96% capacity, even when the country is suffering stage two load shedding, with generating capacity being “slightly better than expected.”
The power utility aims to continue on its maintenance drive throughout winter, with little or no load shedding. However, it highlighted that the cold weather increases the demand on the power grid, and the increased capacity puts strain on the system, which can cause unplanned power outages due to the age and volatility of the power plants.
As part of its maintenance drive, Eskom has planned 5 500MW of maintenance for the winter period, which is reportedly three times more than was carried out in pervious winters.
Eskom assured that “there is no prospect of a blackout in South Africa.” It also emphasised that Independent Power Producers are playing an important role, contributing about 1 827MW to the power grid when it is constrained.
The power utility highlighted that the forecasted probability of load shedding for January to May this year represented a bleaker picture than what consumers actually experienced. Eskom predicted that there would not be enough capacity to meet the demand on most days (particularly on week days), however, it noted that “with the exception of May, the lights were kept on most days.”
Eskom added: “During the month of May, on average, load shedding was implemented for only six hours in a 24-hour day.”
The outlook for winter
In a statement released by Eskom, it said: “While there is expected to be sufficient power supply to meet demand for most part of the day, in winter the load increase could be up to 36 000MW particularly over the short sharp evening peak between 17:30 and 18:30. The increase is predominantly due to the use of electric heaters, geysers and cooking that takes place during this time.”
According to the report, there is also increased pressure on the power grid during winter, as there is generally an increase in illegal connections. This, together with the increased demand from users already on the grid, leads to localised power outages in urban areas, and a greater chance of load shedding.
Progress of the power stations
There are a number of power stations that are being completed or constructed at present.
Eskom has announced that unit six at the Medupi Power Station is on track for commercialisation in August 2016, and is currently contributing up to 800MW to the national power grid. The “synchronisation of the second unit is expected in 2017.”
According to the power utility, the Kusile Power Station project is progressing well, with the synchronisation of the first unit expected at the end of the first half of 2017.
The synchronisation of the first unit at the Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme Project “has been revised to the first half of 2016,” noted Eskom.
However, the Sere Wind Farm in the Western Cape has been fully operational since 31 March 2015, contributing 100MW to the “national grid when the wind blows”. Eskom has highlighted that this project was completed on time and within budget.
“As the demand peaks in winter, we anticipate that 100% electricity supply during the day, and a minimum of 96% during the morning and evening peak periods. We will continue with maintenance with the intent to do no or minimal load shedding,” said Eskom.
No mention was made with regards to Eskom’s application to the National Energy Regulator for an increase to the power utility’s tariffs. For more information, click here.

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