UPDATE: Broken conveyor causes another bout of load shedding

Acting COO of Eskom, Jabu Mabuza, says no loadshedding anticipated over the weekend

Eskom reports this summer may see severe power constraints due to maintenance

On Wednesday, Stage 2 load shedding was implemented because of a broken conveyor belt at the Medupi power station, reported Eskom. Since then it appears that six boilers at other coal-fired stations had leaked because of there being no maintenance carried out.

Stage two load shedding entails dropping 2,000MW from the grid through rotational outages nationwide to prevent the entire grid from tripping.

Rotational power cuts were also implemented in March this year. Eskom previously introduced nationwide blackouts in 2015 and 2018.

“Eskom would like to inform South Africans and all its customers that the electricity system has been severely constrained this week. As a result of the loss of additional generation, delays in the return to service of units that are on planned maintenance and limited diesel supply, it has become necessary to implement stage 2 rotational load-shedding from 09:00 until 23:00 in order to protect the power system from a total collapse,” read a statement on the official Eskom website.

Many South Africans had hoped that load shedding was now a thing of the past, particularly since National Treasury had bailed Eskom out with its multi-billion rand debt, but this was apparently not enough to ensure a constant supply from the power utility which provides more than 95% of the country’s power requirements.

Energy expert Chris Yelland said he was receiving information of “major Eskom generation capacity supply shortages as unplanned generation breakdowns (UCLF) spiked yesterday and continue today”.

Business Day reported that a new round of load-shedding during the summer, when Eskom experiences demand throughout the day and not just at peak periods, has been widely anticipated by Eskom watchers. The company put in place a “summer plan”, but plant performance has fallen below expectation.

Wednesday’s load-shedding announcement came on the day the cabinet was due to deliberate on the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), the government’s long-term planning strategy to meet electricity demand.

The load shedding underlines the urgency of procuring new capacity as Eskom’s poor plant performance continues to threaten the security of supply.

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