Eskom warned in a statement on Tuesday evening (01 February), that its power system is under severe pressure and could be forced to implement load shedding at short notice.
The state company said that while no load shedding is currently being implemented, it requested the public to reduce the usage of power.
“Since the weekend, there have been numerous generating unit breakdowns at various stations. This has required Eskom to utilise significant amounts of emergency generation reserves, which under the current constrained system, is difficult to replenish.”
It said that while some of these units have since returned to service, four other units that failed are currently offline. “A unit at Matimba and Hendrina suffered a boiler tube leak, while a unit each at Majuba and Kendal tripped,” Eskom said.
The group said that delays in returning units at Kusile, Tutuka, Duvha, and Grootvlei have also contributed to supply constraints. “Total breakdowns amount to 14,134MW while planned maintenance is 5,028MW of capacity as we continue with the reliability maintenance,” it said.
Eskom warned that should there be any further loss of generation capacity, load shedding will be required, at short notice.
In January, Eskom took unit 2 of the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station offline, for a regular refuelling and maintenance outage that is scheduled for five months.
It said that the Koeberg unit 1 outage, of a similar duration, will follow later in the year during which the unit 1 steam generators will also be replaced; its reactor pressure vessel head was replaced several years ago.
The Koeberg units, at 920MW each, are the largest generating units on the African continent.
Major projects and outages undertaken this year will continue to exert pressure on the supply side, raising the risk of load-shedding in the short term. These outages, however, are necessary interventions that will deliver long-term benefits and the security of energy supply, Eskom said.
“Despite our good performance in recent weeks – particularly over the festive season, surpassing that of the previous quarter as well as the same period in 2020 – much still needs to be done for Eskom to achieve operational sustainability and ensure energy security for South Africa,” said André de Ruyter, Eskom’s group chief executive.