Eskom Celebrates 100 Days Without Load Shedding in South Africa

Improved Performance and Reliability Achieved Through Strategic Initiatives

by Adenike Adeodun

State-owned power utility Eskom has achieved 100 consecutive days without load shedding, highlighting the enhanced reliability and performance of its generation fleet.

The milestone also marks a significant reduction in the use of open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs) for supplementing generation capacity. From April 1 to June 30, Eskom cut OCGT diesel expenditure by around R6.2 billion compared to the same period last year. Eskom Group CEO Dan Marokane noted that maintaining this trajectory could drive a return to profit in the 2025 financial year.

Eskom’s success stems from a multi-dimensional generation operational recovery plan initiated in March 2023. Aggressive planned maintenance, supported by financial aid from the National Treasury Eskom debt relief scheme, played a crucial role.

“The achievement of 100 continuous days without load shedding results from diligent execution of recovery plans and efforts of our 40,000 dedicated and skilled employees,” said Eskom generation group executive Bheki Nxumalo.

Maintaining a 70% energy availability factor (EAF) and adding significant capacity will ensure an adequate supply without major load-shedding risks, added Marokane.

Targeted initiatives have gradually reduced unplanned losses in Eskom’s generation fleet, lowering the average from 18,000 MW to 12,000 MW. This improvement has increased the EAF from 54.56% at the end of the 2023/24 financial year to 61.5% year-to-date, a 6.94% rise over three months.

Eskom expressed gratitude to the government, the National Energy Crisis Committee, and key stakeholders for their collaborative efforts, enabling the successful execution of its plans.

Eskom’s immediate focus remains on implementing the recovery plan. The utility aims to recover 1,600 MW from the coal fleet following the successful operation of Kusile Unit 5 and 930 MW from Koeberg Unit 2 by the end of the year. This will significantly improve the EAF by March 2025.

Eskom plans to continue strengthening governance and future-proofing the organization to ensure energy security, growth, and long-term sustainability for South Africa. “We remain committed to improving the current business while laying the groundwork for future opportunities and initiatives,” Eskom stated.

Electricity and Energy Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa hailed the milestone as a significant step toward a more stable electricity supply. “This achievement reflects the hard work, dedication, and collaboration of everyone in the energy sector. It benefits our economy, and businesses, and enhances the quality of life for our citizens.”

The Minerals Council South Africa also noted the improvement in Eskom’s performance. In June, Eskom maintained an EAF above 60%, with a slight dip to 63.1% from 63.9% in May. This trend indicates a potential sustained improvement in power plant performance.

According to Statistics South Africa, real electricity generation increased by 5.7% year-on-year in May. However, month-on-month, seasonally adjusted electricity production was 0.5% lower than in April. Overall, May’s electricity production was 8.5% below pre-pandemic levels, though this is an improvement from the 11% deficit reported in January.

In June, Eskom increased planned maintenance by about 1,100 MW compared to May. This rise, along with reduced unplanned maintenance, suggests effective identification and resolution of potential issues, preventing unexpected failures. The decrease in unplanned breakdowns is particularly encouraging, indicating better maintenance planning.

While OCGT use increased in June to meet peak winter demand, it remains minimal compared to 2023 monthly averages. The focus on planned maintenance and efficient use of resources reflects Eskom’s commitment to enhancing the overall stability and efficiency of its power plants.

Eskom’s achievement of 100 days without load shedding marks a significant milestone in South Africa’s journey toward a stable and reliable electricity supply. Continuous efforts and strategic initiatives are essential to sustain this improvement and meet future energy demands.

Source: Mining Weekly

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