South Africans are urged to prepare for intermitted power cuts that could last up to five years. Andre de Ruyter, Eskom chief executive, said yesterday that there would be a continued electricity supply shortfall of approximately 4 000 megawatts over this extended period, reports IOL.
The chief executive went on to warn that the enormity of reducing loadshedding could be not overstated, especially with the added pressure of a growing economy, continued IOL.
“What we need in South Africa is additional new generation capacity to the grid, and we need that sooner rather than later,” De Ruyter said.
“That shortfall may be larger if the economy grows and more demand is created, hence we want to accelerate the implementation of additional generation capacity.
“Therefore, we believe that bringing forward new generation capacity as soon as possible will be positive for the economy and avoid the downside risk of further shortfalls,” reported IOL.
The power utility yesterday extended loadshedding to tomorrow following the loss of further generation capacity. It suffered further breakdowns at five power stations during the weekend.
However, Eskom said that they had ramped-up planned maintenance of ageing coal-fired powerplants.
de Ruyter said Eskom was still working towards the completion of the first part of its reliability maintenance programme by end of April, said IOL.
“But again to stress that maintenance in and of itself will not be a panacea to solve loadshedding going forward.”
“We will continue to do our best to strike the right balance between plant maintenance, while new capacity is brought on to the grid.”
When Eskom launched the current so-called “philosophy maintenance” programme, it did highlight the risk of loadshedding, continued IOL. This was before the Covid-19 lockdown disrupted progress.
Jan Oberholzer, Eskom chief operating officer, stated that the unreliability of the ageing fleet had an uncertainty of about 6 000MW of capacity at any given time.
He continued, saying that this would remain until a historical maintenance backlog is addressed.
“Up until now we have made quite a significant dent in reliability maintenance, the risk unfortunately of loadshedding will remain,” concluded IOL.