Business / Business News

Steven Tau
2 minute read
6 Jun 2017
5:45 am

Eskom is ready for the cold weeks ahead

Steven Tau

Load shedding is not on the menu right now.

Picture: Thinkstock

With the demand for electricity expected to increase this week amid cold and wet conditions forecast for different parts of the country, Eskom says it is more than ready.

Speaking to The Citizen yesterday, spokesperson for the power utility Khulu Phasiwe said the system coped well with the sudden spike in demand last week, when temperatures dropped significantly.

“The only major challenge we have is that of illegal connections,” he said.

This happens in areas where people steal power from mini substations or when households that are formally connected have additional rooms, where wires have been connected from one room to another, which then puts the system under enormous pressure, resulting in localised outages.

Eskom has 45 000MW installed capacity, with the demand for electricity standing at just over 30 000MW.

During the recent cold snap, which signalled that winter has arrived, the demand for electricity rose to ablout 36 000MW.

Eskom has not yet been granted approval to purchase more coal.

“We are still waiting for Treasury,” said Phasiwe, “but we are not in panic mode.”

Last week, Eskom board chairperson Ben Ngubane warned that load shedding could be necessary should the power utility not get timeous approval from Treasury to purchase more coal.

Phasiwe said that out of the 13 power stations in the country, four needed additional coal.

Of the power stations still under construction, unit 4 of the Medupi power station in Limpopo was recently synchronised to the national power grid, becoming the third of the station’s six units to come on stream.

The synchronisation of unit 4 also marked a milestone towards the full operation of the unit ahead of its scheduled commercial operation in 2018.

Synchronising units does not mean that they are fully operational, but are being tested.

“Medupi unit 4’s synchronisation is a great milestone and a strong indication that we are on the right path to delivering the entire new build programme to the country ahead of schedule.” said Prish Govender, acting group executive for group capital at Eskom.

“I am thrilled by this achievement.”

Once completed, Medupi will be the fourth-largest coal-fired power station and the largest dry-cooled power station in the world. – stevent@citizen.co.za