Despite higher usage of emergency diesel reserves over the past few days, Eskom said the impact of cyclone Eloise, which hit South Africa last week, was minimal.
This was because the power utility’s “considerable” investment in its systems and power stations over the last year yielded good results, according to Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha.
“In terms of the coal, Eskom has for more than a year spent a considerable amount of time and money investing in infrastructure and systems at its power stations. This ‘wet-coal strategy‘ investment has paid big dividends, as could be observed with the minimal impact the recent heavy rains and the cyclone storm Eloise had on the infrastructure during the past two weeks.”
The main focus of the wet-coal strategy was to improve the drainage systems of the coal stockpiles and other coal handling aspects. According to Mantshantsha, stations in Mpumalanga and Limpopo that were in the path of Eloise were able to successfully operate with minimal impact during the heavy rains and storm, signifying the success of the project.
“Of course as the heavy rains continue in some parts of Mpumalanga, the risk of floods and wet coal remains,” he explained, adding that the system remained constrained with minimal use of the diesel turbines. “While the system remains constrained due to high breakdowns of about 14,000MW at present, Eskom is able to generate without minimal usage of the OCGTs [Open Cycle Gas Turbines].”
Earlier on Monday, The Citizen reported that Eskom’s latest energy-generation data suggests that the grid has been severely constrained for the past three days. This period also coincided with heavy downpours in the aftermath of Eloise over the weekend.
According to Eskom’s online dashboard monitoring use of its OCGTs, as of Sunday the power utility had been using the diesel-guzzling machines at a load factor of 30%.