CAPE TOWN – With ongoing Eskom woes including boiler tube leaks and breakdowns, South Africans must brace themselves for further power cuts this week.
As Eskom is still battling to return service at Kusile power station’s generating unit 1, unit 2 tripped on Tuesday afternoon, taking 720MW of generating capacity with it.
The power utility said while this unit has since returned to service, it would slowly load up to full capacity.
The loss of capacity led to an increase to Stage four power cuts instead of the initially indicated stage 3 load shedding.
Eskom had 1 904MW on planned maintenance, while another 17 255MW of capacity was unavailable due to breakdowns.
Interim group executive for generation, Rhulani Mathebula during a media briefing yesterday said they were running a very volatile system.
“The unfortunate thing about all these efforts is that we found ourselves going back to the enormous amount of breakdowns. Our focus as the generation team is to ensure that as we recover these units, when they return to the grid, we can keep on the load. We have experienced a number of failures over the weekend which has led us to the situation we are facing,” he said.
According to Mathebula, unforeseen losses of generation capacity across the network remained the biggest challenge.
“Boiler tube leaks remain our key problem in terms of failures and resulting in generators taking time to return. We are focusing on this and relooking at our strategies and root causes to ensure we can curb this common trend of boiler leaks especially in our big stations,” he said.
Eskom chief executive Andre de Ruyter said there was a significant shortfall of capacity to meet demand for the evening peaks.
Power cuts are due to breakdowns at different power stations, including Kusile, Matla, Majuba, Lethabo, Arnot, Duvha and Kriel.
“The total unplanned losses are sitting at 16,307MW, which is a very high number when we have demand expected for evening peaks. The full load losses across the generation fleet are hampering us at the moment and making it very difficult for us to meet the demand during peak hours,” said De Ruyter.
Eskom chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer said they were making extensive use of diesel-burning open-cycle gas turbines, and has already burnt about 40 million litres of diesel this month.
De Ruyter said a diesel-supply vessel is expected to dock at Saldanha Bay on May 24, and until then the utility will have to manage its diesel “carefully”.