Eskom burnt R5bn worth of diesel to keep lights on in SA

19 March 2019 - 17:08 By Ernest Mabuza
Eskom board chair Jabu Mabuza at a media briefing in Rosebank, Johannesburg, on the power crisis on Tuesday, March 19 2019.
Eskom board chair Jabu Mabuza at a media briefing in Rosebank, Johannesburg, on the power crisis on Tuesday, March 19 2019.
Image: Alon Skuy

Eskom has spent R5bn on diesel in less than a year, running its open-cycle gas turbine peaking plants to keep the lights on - and it is becoming unsustainable.

This emerged during a briefing by the public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan and Eskom executives on the country's electricity supply problems, held in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Eskom board chair Jabu Mabuza said a shortage of capacity had seen the power utility increase the use of its open-cycle gas turbines as manifested by the amount of diesel it had been buying.

Mabuza said Eskom could not afford the diesel and there was no more diesel stock available in the country.

"In terms of our regulator, we are allowed only 1% load factor of usage of the open-cycle gas turbines. In rand terms, we are allowed to spend R600m a year," Mabuza said.

"However, over the past three to five months, given the problems we have experienced in terms of coal supply and unavailability of plants, we have spent over R5bn instead." 

Mabuza said the problems Eskom faced included industrial relations issues in 2018, coal supply problems towards the end of 2018 and the unavailability of some generation units.

Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe said the company had exhausted all diesel stocks around SA because of the amount it was buying. He said the only diesel available was that destined for vehicles and other enterprises.


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