Minister of Electricity: “Power grid records Progression benefits to South Africa”

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Minister of Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa has indicated that although the demand for power is increasing, Eskom is able to maintain a much lower stage of load shedding due to the improvement of the Energy Availability Factor (EAF).

The Minister of Electricity made the remarks during a virtual media briefing on Sunday, 25 June, further reaffirming that Eskom is much closer to achieving its target of 70% EAF.

“The EAF has been consistent on an average of 60% for the past 14 days. We are getting much closer to the target of 70% EAF that we had promised, and the benefit will be to the South African economy, households and the ability to ensure that we achieve the levels of growth that are necessary to improve the performance of the economy.”

Eskom is currently implementing load shedding in some areas due to high demand or urgent maintenance being performed at certain power stations.

“At this stage, we are looking at stages zero during the day and Stage 3 in the afternoon but there is a potential of us going into Stage 1 and Stage 4,” said Eskom’s Eric Shunmugam.

Outlining some of Eskom improvements, Shunmugam said the five-day average of energy availability over the past week has significantly improved from the previous week.

“We have added about 400MW and that is significant, as it illustrates a consistent improvement… The more the units perform, the more opportunity to execute planned maintenance.
“Planned maintenance has gone up from the previous week’s 3 302MW to 3 451MW. That is important because the more you have units performing and being consistent, it gives us space to execute planned maintenance. These results will be seen over a period of time,” Shunmugam said.

The unplanned capability lost factor, which is the rate at which units are failing, has come down by about 700MW on average. The country is sitting at a five-day average of 15 157MW versus the previous 15 870MW, according to the Minister of Electricity

“For the first time, we are beginning to go below 15 000MW. We have registered multiple instances where we have gone below the 15 000MW of unplanned capability lost factor, which is an illustration of the degree to which improvements are made, and we are able to keep that consistent over a period of time,” Ramokgopa said.

Minister of Electricity added that an area that requires attention is the issue of outage slips, which refers to the inability to meet the promise to return units at a time that had been committed to.
The Minister welcomed the decision by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment’s National Air Quality Officer to grant the organisation a postponement in terms of the Minimum Emission Standards (MES) pertaining to the sulphur dioxide (SO2) emission levels at Kusile power station.
This means that Eskom will be able to operate the three units without the use of the Flue Gas Desulphurisation (FGD) plant, which is equipped with emission-abatement technology for SO2, for a period of up to 31 March 2025, while the flue gas ducts in the permanent stack are being repaired.

“That is significant in that it will allow us to return three units at Kusile. We are talking about 2 400MW, and that is two and a half stages of load shedding. Eskom will do anything that is possible to ensure that we [mitigate the] impact of sulphur dioxide that gets emitted into the environment.

“Although we have these exemptions, Eskom is meeting all the emissions parameters, barring the ones of sulphur dioxide content… and that’s why we have asked for an exemption, which is provided for in the legislative dispensation in the country,” the Minister of Electricity said.

He also assured the nation that everything possible will be done to minimise its impact.

“We are launching the winter campaign. We have appointed a service provider with the necessary skills to work with us so that we amp the message in relation to demand interventions. Our target is to reduce demand by about 1 000MW in the next six months and we remain on track to do that,” the Minister of Electricity concluded.