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Eskom load-shedding update — Stage 3 or higher possible as cold front hits


Eskom has revealed that a shortage of generating capacity and low backup generation reserves was behind it having to implement all-day load-shedding from 10:00 on Wednesday, 22 June 2022.

Eskom’s COO, Jan Oberholzer, said that Stage 2 load-shedding would likely continue over the weekend, adding that further breakdowns could lead to Stage 3 or higher power cuts.

“Should we continue to experience breakdowns in the fleet of coal power stations, this could lead to Stage 3 or even higher load-shedding,” he said.

He explained that the power utility was forced to lean heavily on its diesel-powered open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs) even during periods of low demand last week after several units broke down.

This resulted in Eskom’s diesel reserves being depleted faster than they could be replenished. It also used pump storage extensively and could not refill the dams over the weekend.

“We are at a point now where we need to conserve water and diesel levels,” Oberholzer said.

The power utility’s CEO, Andre de Ruyter, explained that it had to shed more load to protect its essential diesel and water reserves.

“We need to protect very important backup supplies,” he said.

The power utility currently has 2,967MW of generation capacity offline for planned maintenance and 14,470MW unavailable due to breakdowns.

De Ruyter said the power grid remains unstable and unpredictable, with Eskom’s acting generation executive Rhulani Mathebula adding that the power utility experiences an average of four breakdowns daily.

Mathebula explained that while Eskom resolves most breakdowns and returns the units to the grid within hours, it can take longer depending on the defect.

The power utility forecasts a peak demand of 32,140MW on Wednesday evening, leaving a shortfall of around 1,100MW.

It expects demand during the day to increase over the week as a cold front makes its way across the country.

The demand — combined with Eskom’s need to manage backup reserves — has resulted in the power utility having to implement rotational power cuts throughout the day.

Stage 2 power cuts will run from 10:00 until midnight on Wednesday, and from Thursday, load-shedding will run from 05:00 until midnight.

Now read: Eskom unbundling crippled by R396 billion debt

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