Eskom, the South African power utility, breathes a sigh of relief as the winter season, typically a period of intensified load-shedding, hasn’t been as severe as anticipated. Acting Eskom GCEO, Calib Cassim, recently gave an update to parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa), highlighting this fortunate deviation.
Weathering the Energy Storm
Not only has the utility been doing less maintenance during these winter months, but the weather also has been unexpectedly warm, resulting in less demand for power. “The warmer the winter, the better for us,” admitted Cassim.
Unplanned Outages: A Critical Factor
Cassim emphasized that managing unplanned outages has been critical for ensuring a consistent Energy Availability Factor (EAF). Over the last year and a half, these outages have typically ranged from 17,000MW to 18,000MW. But, in a welcome shift over the past two-and-a-half weeks, unplanned outages have decreased to between 15,000MW and 16,000MW.
- This reduction, equating to a surplus of 2,000MW to 3,000MW, has significantly contributed to the improved EAF.
- As a result, South Africans have avoided stage 6 load-shedding during peak usage.
Despite it being winter, Eskom managed to perform short-term maintenance to the tune of 6,000MW over the weekend.
The Road Ahead
Looking forward, Eskom aims to keep unplanned outages below 15,500MW, a target that may pose a challenge as the summer months demand increased maintenance.
Cassim also underlined the utility’s commitment to providing consistent and predictable power supply, preferring to maintain current load-shedding stages rather than alternating between higher and lower stages unpredictably.
In a year fraught with power woes, South Africa has found an unexpected ally in the form of a warmer winter, bringing about a ray of hope in an otherwise gloomy energy landscape.