The possibility of load shedding being implemented quite frequently will be increasingly high next year, as Eskom plans to carry out maintenance across its fleet of power stations.
Eskom released its interim results to end-September last Wednesday.
Eskom’s generation division’s performance results were disappointing due to high levels of unplanned losses.
The electricity availability factor (EAF) declined to 65.27%, contributing to 21 days of load shedding.
The power utility also revealed that Koeberg Power Station’s Unit 2 generation will be off for five months in order for steam generators to be replaced.
The planned maintenance at Koeberg – starting in January next year – will result in the power station’s life expectancy being extended by another 20 years.
The station’s unit 1 generation will also be shut down for maintenance during last three of 2022.
This means that Koeberg will operate at half capacity for a period of 10 months, because 920 megawatts (MW) of capacity will be switched off.
Each unit of Koeberg generates 928MW.
Eskom CEO André de Ruyter indicated that the risk of load shedding for 2022 will be high due to challenges encountered at two of its power stations.
“Coupled with the loss of Medupi Unit 4 and Kendal Unit 1, this means Eskom will operate with reduced output of some 2,300MW for next year, in addition to the high breakdowns we have experienced, increasing the risk of load shedding,” De Ruyter said.
In August this year, Medupi Power Station’s unit 4 exploded, which caused severe damage to the generator.
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De Ruyter previously indicated that the explosion could add up to R2 billion to the power plant’s extensive bill.
On the boiler modifications, the Eskom boss said the maintenance has been completed on all six Medupi units as well as Kusile unit 1.
“Similar work is in progress at Kusile Unit 2 and will soon be rolled out to Unit 3,” he said.
Last week, Eskom’s environmental manager Deidre Herbst warned that South Africa could be plunged into darkness due to the possibility of stage 8 load shedding.
This is after the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) rejected Eskom’s application, which sought pollution exemptions for its power stations.
Eskom was ordered to comply with minimum emission standards (MES) – which may cost the embattled power utility R300 billion – or be forced to close down 16,000MW of installed coal-fired capacity on its national grid.
All of Eskom’s power stations are required meet MES within a certain time frame as per the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act of 2004.
Herbst further cautioned that Eskom would be forced to apply for an additional 10% tariff increase in 2022.
Eskom is already seeking an average tariff increase of 20.5% for the next financial year.
The new tariffs will apply from April 1 next year for Eskom’s direct customers and from July 1 for municipalities.
Additional reporting by Nica Richards