Load-shedding isn’t taking a summer break, folks. At a recent press briefing, Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa shared his insights on the looming power challenges and what’s being done about them.
Planned Outages: A Necessary Evil?
Eskom’s relentless outages might be a pain, but they’re here for a good reason. As we venture into the warm embrace of summer, Eskom refuses to sideline planned maintenance despite a predictable drop in electricity demand.
“We have units that are unreliable, that keep tripping and that is why we need to accelerate planned outages. We will… ensure that they come back healthy, rejuvenated and are able to run for longer hours approximating their design capacity,” Ramokgopa emphasized.
While the notion of persistent outages might be frustrating, the minister argues that this is for the greater good: ensuring longer operational hours for these units in the future.
Load-shedding Trends: A Historical Perspective
- Winter Woes: High electricity demand, thanks to everyone keeping warm.
- Summer Slowdown: Demand dips, providing an opportunity for necessary maintenance on vulnerable plants.
Ramokgopa reminisced, “As part of the winter outlook we did indicate that we would slow down on planned outages…” but summer offers a chance to intensify these outages for the sake of the machinery’s future sustainability.
Eskom’s Math: Understanding the Numbers
Planned capability loss factor – sounds complex, right? It’s just the ratio between the unavailable energy due to maintenance versus the plant’s total installed capacity over a given period. Ramokgopa stressed the need to bring this figure down below the 15,000MW mark.
2023 vs. 2022: The Load-shedding Saga Continues
Brace yourselves. Ramokgopa candidly mentioned that 2023 won’t see any relief in terms of load-shedding days compared to 2022. In fact, it’s bound to be “exceptionally higher”. Yet, there’s light at the end of this tunnel as the minister remains positive about finding a solution.
Some startling figures:
- 2022: 205 load-shedding days
- 2023: Already, a whopping 238 days (as per the Outlier).
Ramokgopa’s Tenure: Performance Check
Since taking over the electricity ministry reins in March, Ramokgopa shared some promising stats. Eskom witnessed an increase in energy availability from 40% to 60%. This significant jump was achieved in just four months.
Explaining this figure, energy availability factor reflects the maximum energy generation a plant can supply, limited only by outages.
Optimistically, the minister expressed, “We are very bullish about the prospects going into the future… We have had exceptional performance…”
The Weekend Reprieve
In a bit of respite, Eskom momentarily halted load-shedding till 4 pm on a recent Saturday. But the breather was short-lived as stage three was soon rolled out, followed by stage one the next day. The silver lining? This was mainly due to the reduced weekend demand.