Eskom has had the worst year of load shedding ever.
- Eskom had considered continuously reducing and “normalizing” the load in phase 2.
- This gives Eskom more room to plan maintenance, says CEO André de Ruyter.
- However, it was decided that this would not add “significant extra” headroom for doing maintenance.
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Eskom has considered introducing permanent tax shedding, but has refrained from doing so for the time being.
On Sunday, Eskom’s director André de Ruyter said the utility had considered shedding load continuously and “normalizing” it in phase 2, rather than introducing it when the power system is struggling.
This would give Eskom more room to plan maintenance.
However, the utility found that non-stop low-level load shedding would not add “significant extra” headroom for performing maintenance, and decided against it.
“We have debated” [permanent load shedding] expanded internally. In a sense, the planned maintenance we perform contributes to load shedding, because it’s capacity that we want to get off the grid,” said De Ruyter. Eskom, however, ultimately abandoned it, he said.
After a disastrous week of large-scale outages at coal-fired power stations, Eskom now expects to increase load shedding above planned levels in the summer months, confirms De Ruyter.
On Sunday, Stage 6 load shedding hit South Africa. Monday will also see Stage 6 with and “high levels” of load shedding expected for the week, Eskom warned.
Eskom is struggling to replenish its emergency reserves, which come from two sources: hydroelectric power from dams and open-cycle gas turbines (OCGT), which burn diesel.
The diesel level at his Ankerlig OCGT is only 32%, which is “too low for comfort”. It takes a while for trucks to refill the diesel.
Meanwhile, Eskom does not have the money to pay for diesel. Over the past five months, it has “burned” its way through R7.7 billion worth of diesel – the entire budget for the year.
Diesel prices have exploded this year and, unlike petrol, show little sign of cooling. According to the latest data from the Central Energy Fund, petrol prices may be on track for another cut in October, but diesel can still be increased. Diesel prices remain more tacky than petrol due to the shortage of diesel supplies worldwide.
For now, Eskom has allocated another R500 million to buy more diesel.
De Ruyter said Eskom would like to source 1,000 MW of capacity from independent power generators (IPPs) to relieve pressure on the grid. In this way, Eskom can reduce its dependence on diesel and save money, he said.