Eskom has kicked off the week with another bout of bad news.
The power utility announced at 12.35pm, in yet another last-minute statement, that due to generation capacity shortages, load shedding stage 4 would be implemented from 1pm until 5am on Friday.
After this, stage 2 load shedding will continue until 5am on Saturday.
The previous plan was for the country to have stage 2 load shedding from Monday until 5am on Saturday.
“While Eskom regrets the escalation in load shedding, it is necessary to ration the remaining emergency generation reserves, which have been utilised extensively this morning as we are not getting the reduction in demand as expected from the implementation of stage 2 load shedding.”
In addition, the seven units that would have returned to service by Monday have “not materialised”.
Another generating unit also tripped at the Arnot power station on Monday morning, contributing further to electricity shortages.
Incident in Zamabia
Over the past weekend, Eskom said a major incident occurred in Zambia on Saturday that affected the entire Southern African Power Pool.
“During this incident, the imported power from Cahora Bassa reduced by 1,000MV while a Tutuka generator also tripped. Furthermore, a unit Tutuka power station was forced to shut down while there were further delays in returning a unit in each at Lethabo and Majuba power stations,” the statement read.
The power utility problems worsened when Medpudi and Matla power stations also tripped.
“The total breakdowns currently amount to 16,693MW while planned maintenance is 5,769MW of capacity.
“Eskom teams successfully returned two of the three generators at Kendal Power Station following the shut down on Friday due to coal constraints. A unit each at Lethabo and Majuba power station was returned to service from boiler tube leak repairs.”
Last week, Eskom announced stage 2 load shedding on Friday and then quickly moved to stage 4.
Load shedding getting worse every year
According to energy expert Chris Yelland, Eskom’s load shedding reputation gets worse each year, with 2021 being the lowest it has ever been.
He explained that the old Eskom coal-fired power plants are getting older every year, which means they are performing worse.
Medupi and Kusile, meant to boost the country’s electricity generation capacity by thousands of megawatts, have come on stream too slowly, and are performing “like old plants” – which means their energy availability factors are not bringing the average up, Yelland said.
“In fact, the new plant is performing as bad if not worse than some of the old plants.”