South Africans to spend Christmas in darkness
South Africans should brace themselves for more blackouts during the holiday season and beyond, as major capital projects and planned repairs reduce available generation capacity.
Speaking at a briefing on the state of South Africa’s power system on Tuesday, Jan Oberholzer, COO of Eskom, said the repairs will increase the likelihood of load shedding.
Eskom’s most reliable generation machine, the Koeberg nuclear power station, is to undergo scheduled maintenance from December 8 to June 2023.
During the six-month period, 920MW of generation capacity will be removed from the national grid.
“Unit 1 of the Koeberg Nuclear power station, which has enjoyed 384 days of uninterrupted supply, will be shut down for normal maintenance and refuelling, and the replacement of the three steam generators as part of the long-term operation to extend its operating life,” he said.
Other repairs at Kusile Units 1, 2, and 3 and Medupi Unit 4 will remove more than 2,300MW of generating capacity from the system.
“We can anticipate an increased risk of load-shedding until the repairs and maintenance are complete over the next six to 12 months,” he emphasized.
The reality of running a shrunken generation system with no reserve margin is that every single breakdown pushes the entire system to the brink, he said.
“This loss of capacity, temporary as it is, will make for a very challenging summer this season, particularly as this is our peak planned maintenance period where a number of units at various power stations had to be shut down to conduct a much-needed maintenance.”
The COO also announced the immediate resignation of the power utility’s group executive for generation, Rhulani Mathebula. Mathebula succeeded Phillip Dukashe, who resigned in May.
South Africa has had a nightmare year, with at least 155 days of power outages since January 2022 and more days in the dark expected during the holiday season.
Source: Energy Ghana