The sudden plunge into stage 4 load shedding on Friday was the result of Eskom failing to ration its supplies of
diesel and water, which take up the slack when there are emergencies at major coal-fired power stations, says an energy expert.
Energy analyst Clyde Mallinson said the country should have carried on with stage 2 load shedding throughout the elections and the weekend.
“Suddenly we have stage 4. But the real reason is, we didn’t ration our reserves and we didn’t ration our water and diesel,” he said.
Mallinson said Eskom had no choice but to implement stage 4 load shedding.
“The country has a balance of diesel and suddenly you have a giant drinking diesel faster than anyone else – he could tip the balance,” he said.
It was difficult to see SA not going into permanent load shedding.
“Remember, there has to be a reserve margin and if the country has run out of diesel, it wouldn’t matter how many diesel generators you had.
“If you didn’t have any diesel you can’t do anything,” he said.
Early yesterday, Eskom announced stage 2 load shedding, only to increase it to stage 4 in the afternoon.
In a statement, the power utility said residents could expect stage 4 load shedding until this morning, followed by stage 2 for the remainder of the weekend.
Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said stage 4 load shedding was necessary to stop the use of open-cycle gas turbine (OCGT) generators to preserve the remaining fuel at power stations.
“There is insufficient diesel available in the country to continue generating with the OCGTs at the current rate,” he said.
He said the shutdown of three generating units at the Kendal power station and the tripping of a unit at the Tutuka and Matimba power stations had led to the implementation of stage 4 load shedding.
There was also delayed return in service of a unit to the Majuba and Lethabo power stations.
“We anticipate that some generating units will return to service overnight, allowing a reduction to stage 2 load shedding for the remainder of the weekend,” he added.
The total breakdowns on Friday amounted to 17 437 megawatts, with the additional planned maintenance of
4 361MW. Stage 2 load shedding was implemented following a delay in service at a unit at Lethabo and Majuba.
To add to the pressure, a unit at the Tutuka station tripped while three units at Kendal were taken
off the grid.
“The conveyor belts supplying these units are currently not running due to a power fault. No coal is reaching the station at this point,” Mantshantsha said.