Narissa Subramoney
Copy rewriter
3 minute read
11 Nov 2021
1:07 pm

Power grid stable, for now, as Eskom announces moratorium on outages

Narissa Subramoney

Eskom CEO André de Ruyter has empathised with frustrated South Africans who are fed up with the erratic power supply.

Eskom CEO André de Ruyter. Picture: Screenshot

Eskom says the national grid remains stable for now.

The power utility announced that the country would move to stage 2 power cuts from lunchtime on Thursday, which is expected to last until Friday.

The power giant said the outlook was positive for now and it has managed to recover some of its diesel stock.

Eskom grid outlook

However, Eskom reminded South Africans that its generational units were old and unstable and at risk of breaking down without warning, resulting in power cuts resuming without notice.

There are three units currently operating under strain and at risk of tripping. These are the Duvha, Kriel and Medupi stations in Mpumalanga. Should these units break down, it will cost the national grid 895MW.

Planned and unplanned maintenance is underway, which means the grid is operating with reduced capacity.

‘I know it’s frustrating’

Eskom CEO André de Ruyter has empathised with frustrated South Africans who are fed up with the erratic power supply and are seemingly indifferent to calls to be energy savvy.

“I fully understand the frustrations, it impacts everyone’s daily lives, being stuck in traffic, not being able to watch tv or get on with life. I understand, empathise and apologise. We need a collaborative effort to stop load shedding,” said De Ruyter.

He said Eskom could not solve the country’s power crisis without the public’s cooperation.

“If we ignore pleas to be wise with electricity consumption, load shedding will remain a part of our lives longer. That isn’t an outcome rational South Africans want,” he said.

Here’s how saving power at home translates to easing demand on the national grid

If everyone switched off one unnecessary light, it can save 835MW – that’s equivalent to one generational unit at Medupi.

Replacing old fashioned bulbs and downlighters, which pull a lot of power, can save 765MW.

Switching off the swimming pool pump for an hour can save 506MW. There are 675,000 pools in South Africa.

Switching geyser temperatures to 60ºC and switching off during peak times saves 743MW.

“If we add all of that together you get 2,849MW, which is enough to power an entire city,” said De Ruyter.

“A small gesture can make a difference,” he added.

Koeberg scheduled for ‘most complicated’ maintenance next year

South Africa’s only nuclear and arguably most reliable and efficiently run power station is scheduled to undergo two sequential outages next year.

The planned maintenance will effectively wipe 928MW off the grid for an extended period of time, which means the country’s coal-fired plants will have to step up.

Koeberg’s steam generator needs to be replaced which is “very complicated and unavoidable”.

“We can’t continue for another 20 years when these steam generators have reached the end of their life,” said De Ruyter.

This will also be the most complex maintenance in Koebergs history, but Eskom has assured the country that it has done everything possible to ensure it is ready for the outage.

ALSO READ: Airborne contamination at Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant

Defaulting municipalities and industries

Last week’s sudden move to stage 4 planned outages came courtesy of municipalities and some big industrial clients, who Eskom said blatantly ignored the power utility’s directive to shed load.

Eskom group executive for distribution, Monde Bala, said it sent letters to 17 municipalities and has handed over non-compliant municipalities to the regulator.

Bala was hesitant to name and shame big industry customers who ignored Eskom’s directive, citing “they were still Eskom’s customers and it was important to respect the working relationship relating to further load shedding scenarios”.

NOW READ: Power cuts are a necessary evil, and sacking De Ruyter won’t fix that