South Africa has been grappling with load shedding for a long time, and there seems to be no end in sight. Eskom’s low Energy Availability Factor (EAF) at power stations, responsible for over 80% of electricity generation, is one of the significant contributors to the electricity crisis. To resolve this crisis, improving Eskom’s EAF is imperative, says Minister in the Presidency for Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa.
Ramokgopa recently addressed the Ministers in the Economic Cluster in the National Council of Provinces regarding the energy crisis. He explained that, to improve EAF, the Eskom board has approved a strategy to enhance the performance of installed capacity up to 60% from the current 53%. This increase could deliver about 2 800MW of power into the grid through seven percentage growth points of about 450MW each.
To achieve this, Ramokgopa states that, through the National Energy Crisis Committee, the South African government has various interventions in place:
- Investment in Maintenance: Eskom is exploiting opportunities that permit it to invest in asset maintenance, including repurposing power plants.
- Redesign of Procurement Dispensation: Significant delays occur due to third-party involvement in procuring replacement parts for Eskom’s assets. To address this, Eskom will go directly to Original Equipment Manufacturers.
- Improving Coal Quality: Poor coal quality has resulted in over 1,000MW of power loss, and the government will ensure that Eskom can provide good quality coal by introducing improved coal transportation methods.
- Addressing Corruption: Rampant corruption has led to mismanagement, adding to Eskom’s problems. The National Energy Crisis Committee is working towards eliminating corruption in the power supply sector.
- Incentivising Workers: To retain skilled workers, the government will introduce more incentives. The incentive program includes private sector expertise to improve the plant level management.
Improving Eskom’s EAF is crucial to addressing South Africa’s energy crisis, and the government, Eskom, and stakeholders should work together to mitigate the adverse effects of load shedding. With these interventions, the government can increase electricity supply, improve the performance of the installed capacity and tackle rampant corruption, securing a better energy future for the country.