President Cyril Ramaphosa meets with Eskom bosses today with two of the power utility's units down, others flooded and 13 mothballed.
As President Cyril Ramaphosa gears up to meet with Eskom’s leadership today after cutting his gallivant to Egypt short, it’s likely rolling blackouts could be here until at least the end of the year, an energy expert predicted yesterday.
And as long as the blackouts continue, so too does the confusion over who and where the cuts will land, with 278 municipalities each having their own system depending on when and if they are load shed by Eskom.
Johannesburg’s City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena said the city’s system was not cast in stone.
“For example, City Power normally makes Stage 1 between two hours and four,” Mangena said. “And it’s also because blocks and suburbs would often overlap into other blocks’ schedule on different days during Stage 6.
“For example, if Stage 6 between 8am and noon (maybe until 2pm at times), include blocks 4A, 5B, 6B, we may switch off only two of those blocks after four hours and allow 5B to go for six hours while bringing in a new set of blocks to join it.”
Graphic: Costa Mokola
So while municipalities try to figure out who’s next on the ol’ electrical chopping block, what do we know?
Eskom noted yesterday the power supply to the incline conveyors feeding coal to the silos at Medupi power station had failed on Monday causing coal-feeding issues resulting in a loss of a number of units (two to be exact).
“At Kriel, there was flooding at both the Kriel mine and the power station leading to no coal deliveries via the conveyor belt, as well as flooding at Komati power station,” said energy expert Ted Blom.
“There was also wet coal at 10 units causing loss of generation,” Blom said.
“Normally when you buy coal, you would stipulate no more than 10% fine. I’m guessing people are buying up to 50% fine, which means there is a lot of money on the table going into someone’s pocket,” Blom stated.
Eskom noted Camden had had 250mm rain in the past week, which had lead to flooding of the boiler, turbine hall, and “other critical infrastructure connected to coal supply and handling inside the station”.
Another issue was the mothballing of 13 units at Hendrina, Komati, and Grootvlei removing 1 887MW from the system, according to Eskom’s Medium – Term System Adequacy Outlook for 2019.
The yo-yo generation continued yesterday, with a total loss of 15,200MW by yesterday morning, of a total capacity of 46,000MW Eskom is supposed to be able to generate, leaving 30,800 MW to comfortably meet SA’s usual 30,000MW demand – in a happier time, when Eskom could actually generate 30,000MW.
When stage 6 was implemented on Monday night, this meant 6MW had to be taken off the board, leaving 24,800MW available to power the country.
As of yesterday afternoon, SA had gone back to Stage 4 (4,000MW) rolling blackouts until 11pm last night, leaving the system still clinging by its nails to the on switch.
Another problem was the renewable energy (RE) plants weren’t delivering power, said Blom, because of cloud cover.
“It’s no use putting your faith in renewable energy which is erratic and not perpetual,” Blom said, noting REs only started delivering energy from around 10am in the morning.
For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.