Eskom says after making some ground in recovering generation capacity, it may lift all stages of load shedding on Friday evening.
The power utility has been battling generation unit failures throughout the past week, which have tipped the country into the more stringent stage four load shedding – dropping down to stage three on Wednesday evening.
Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter said the power utility is recovering some of the lost capacity back into the system.
“We were sitting way in excess of 16 000MW of unplanned losses earlier in the week, so the system is recovering. We are seeing some big units coming back as planned. Demand for this evening’s peak is 30 011MW and our available capacity is 28 022MW. [This] therefore explains why we have to maintain load shedding stage three until after evening peak tonight.
“We intend to drop [load shedding] to stage two and then by after evening peak on Friday, we will be hopefully in a position to lift load shedding in its entirety, depending how the system performs. We will continue to return units to service over the next two days so that we will be in a position – if all goes well, given the risks – that we can then lift load shedding by the weekend,” he said.
The generation units that the power utility has been able to reconnect to the system are Arnot power station unit two and six, Kendal power station unit three, Matimba power station unit five and Majuba power station unit three.
De Ruyter said reserve generation capacity at the power utility’s open cycle gas turbines is also recovering sufficiently.
Despite progress in the recovery of generation units, De Ruyter reported that there were other unplanned breakdowns and an enforced outage from Mozambique’s Cahora Bassa Hydroelectric power station, which feeds into Eskom.
“We did lose Grootvlei [power station unit] two… due to a boiler tube leak. There is a loss of 270MW due to maintenance done on the line from Cahora Bassa. This maintenance is being conducted in Mozambique by our partners on that line, so we are doing everything we can to assist them in order to complete that maintenance.
“We unfortunately did lose Tutuka six this morning… due to a submerged scraper chain that got stuck. This chain clears the ash at the bottom of the boiler and when we cannot clear the ash, we have challenges running the boiler. That leads to a loss of about 365MW,” he said.
The week ahead
De Ruyter was cautiously optimistic about a low forecast for load shedding next week.
“At the moment… we don’t anticipate load shedding for next week. However, that is dependent on the stability of our generating units. We are all aware that there are risks in the system that are difficult to forecast and predict.
“Depending on how we perform over the weekend and depending on rain that is forecast for the Mpumalanga area… where the majority of our coal plants are located, we may potentially see further impacts and that may have an impact on availability of generating capacity particularly for Monday next week.
“But after that, if we can bring those units back that are currently planned to return to service and if we can get additional reduction in partial load losses, we should be okay. So we don’t plan for load shedding next week but we must emphasise that there is always a residual risk,” he said.