Power station breakdowns put power system under pressure
Power station breakdowns put power system under pressure Photo: SA News

Breakdowns and shut downs at Eskom’s power stations have led to the implementation of Stage 2 ‘load shedding’ (in plain terms – power cuts) around South Africa. UPDATE: The loadshedding will continue until 05h00 on Saturday. 

Eskom said in a statement at midday on Tuesday: “Due to the unreliability of the generators, and to prevent a higher stage of loadshedding, Stage 2 load shedding will continue to be implemented until 05h00 on Saturday 12 March.”

Eskom again apologised, and explained that “since yesterday evening Eskom teams have returned four generation units to service. Two other units were, however, taken offline for repairs. A further two units are expected to return to service today while an additional four units are expected to return to service by the weekend.”

Total breakdowns amount to 16,505MW while planned maintenance is 5,505MW of capacity, said Eskom.

According to an earlier statement by the power utility (when it hoped to finish load shedding by Wednesday morning), at least seven units had been affected – putting the power grid under severe pressure.

“Medupi Unit 3 broke down, necessitating load shedding to be [implemented]… This adds to the multiple generating unit failures that occurred over the past 24 hours and has severely reduced available generating capacity,” Eskom said in a statement.

“Since [Monday] morning, a unit each at Matla, Kendal, Matimba, Kusile and Grootvlei power stations tripped, while a unit each at Arnot and Hendrina power stations were forced to shut down. This, in addition to other units that had tripped during the weekend, reduced available generation capacity, forcing Eskom to rely heavily on emergency generation reserves to keep the lights on,” the power utility said.

Eskom explained that the current bout of load shedding will allow the power utility to replenish emergency generation reserves which have been used “significantly since the past weekend”.

Eskom appealed to all South Africans to help limit the impact of load shedding by reducing their usage of electricity and switching off all non-essential appliances.

Ramaphosa acknowledges serious challenges

Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa has acknowledged that the power utility is facing serious challenges – some of which can be remedied through government’s procurement of additional power.

“Eskom is dealing with a very difficult situation. We are short of 4000MW so when they reach… their availability factor – which is low – then they are challenged because they don’t have an additional 4000MW.

“We are speeding up the acquisition of the 4000MW. Once we’ve got an additional 4000MW, we are in a much better position. This is important for the economy, for the people of South Africa. We want to see this resolved [but] there will be those hiccups, those ups and downs. But the matter is being addressed, is being handled,” the South African president said. – SAnews.gov.za