Cape Town – Load shedding will continue to be implemented over the next six to 12 months due to major capital projects and repairs that will remove more than 2 300MW of generating capacity from the system.
The embattled utility on Tuesday said the country has experienced 155 days of load shedding since January.
To limit the stages of load shedding, it said the utility had to heavily rely on the extensive use of open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs), burning millions of litres of diesel.
Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer said: “Due to the vulnerability and unpredictability of the power system, coupled with the major capital projects, maintenance and major repairs to be executed starting during the next few months, the risk of continued load shedding remains quite high”.
On December 8, Unit 1 of the Koeberg nuclear power station, which has provided 384 days of uninterrupted supply to date, will be shut down for normal maintenance and refuelling, and the replacement of the three steam generators (SGR) as part of the long- term operation to extend the operating life of Africa’s only nuclear power station.
The most reliable of Eskom’s generation machines, it is anticipated to return to service in June 2023. This will remove 920MW of generation capacity from the national grid.
Koeberg Unit 2 was returned to service after a forced shutdown to remedy the control rod slippage issue and has been operating for 51 days, said Oberholzer.
The structural collapse that shut down Unit 1 of the Kusile Power Station in October was another serious blow to Eskom.
“This loss of the Kusile units has added additional strain to an already constrained generation system. Unit 4 is the only one on load at Kusile.
“The extent of the damage to the Kusile duct system will be established over the next few weeks as investigations into the structural failure pick up speed.
The investigations into the duct failure will also establish whether there is any risk to Unit 3 of Kusile, whose chimney is also housed in the same stack as the other two units.
“This will determine whether it can be returned to service. Unit 3 was online at the time of the duct failure and continued generating at a steady pace for a week,” Eskom said.
“This is the reality of operating a shrunken generation system bereft of any reserve margin – every single breakdown pushes the whole system to the edge.
“This loss of capacity, temporary as it is, will make for a very challenging summer season, particularly as this is our peak-planned maintenance period where a number of units at various power stations have to be shut down to conduct much needed maintenance.”
Koeberg Alert Alliance (KAA) spokesperson Lydia Petersen said the planned outage of taking units offline will have a far reaching impact on the already precarious energy grid.
“Let the Koeberg power plant run it’s course until 2024 whilst new generation capacity comes online.
It is senseless spending billions on the refurbishment when it could be spent on the renewable sector.”