Eskom warns 'high stages' of load-shedding will continue this week
Eskom CEO André de Ruyter conceded during a briefing on SA’s energy crisis on Sunday that “given the current performance of our coal fleet we cannot deny there is a risk” of going beyond stage 6 load-shedding.
“There is a risk and we need to prepare for this risk and hence the urgent need to replenish our [emergency] reserves,” he said, adding there was a high likelihood of load-shedding continuing at stage 6 at the start of the week as diesel supplies needed to operate open cycle gas turbine peaking plants - and pumped storage scheme dam levels - were replenished.
“We will definitely have a high stage of load-shedding this week,” he said. But he emphasised the crisis was being carefully managed and there was no risk of a total national blackout.
De Ruyter said the power utility would approach the market on Monday in the hope of urgently procuring an additional 1,000MW of electricity from companies with additional capacity.
“In the interim, however, I wish to reiterate our request, our appeal to all South Africans to use electricity sparingly.
“Our teams are working literally around the clock and we are engaging with various government departments and entities to ensure that we get the necessary support,” he added.
Eskom executives said there had been numerous plant breakdowns during the past week and the power utility had made extensive use of its emergency reserves which were now at a critical level. Diesel supplies, which have to be trucked by tanker to peaking plants, would only be fully replenished later in the coming week. In addition, coal-fired power stations were being run “in the red” increasing the risk of further breakdowns.
They assured the nation load-shedding was being implemented to ensure the stability of the national power grid as teams worked around the clock to bring generating units back to service.
De Ruyter said there was no immediate indication the latest blackouts were caused by sabotage.
Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer said: “In terms of the outlook this week, it has been really difficult. The outlook, based again on the return of the nearly two gigawatts and not losing additional units, we believe that we may still be required to have stage 6 load-shedding tomorrow [Monday] because the focus will be to make sure our emergency reserves are protected.”
The power utility announced this week it planned to apply to the National Energy Regulator for a 32% tariff increase for the 2023/2024 financial year.
Trade union Solidarity handed a list of 300 top experts, willing to start work immediately, to Eskom last month to help resolve the crisis but so far only 18 had been appointed, Rapport newspaper said on Sunday.
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