Where Eskom’s electricity comes from

Eskom is battling to meet South Africa’s demand for electricity – we all know that.

What you may not know is where the power utility’s electricity comes from, what power-producing technologies the company uses, and how many power stations Eskom has.

Eskom’s total installed capacity in SA is 42,000MW, which is generated by 27 power stations across the country.

The 27 power stations are split over several categories: coal, hydro, liquid fuel, pumped storage, nuclear, and wind.

It should be noted that private power producers and their energy projects – of which there are many solar and wind-powered initiatives – are not included.

Coal Power – 34,952MW

Eskom has 13 coal-fired power stations which produce the majority of the country’s power – 34,952MW.

According to Eskom, coal is the most widely used primary fuel for electricity generation, accounting for approximately 36% of global power production.

While South Africa has access to coal, and the use of the fuel is the most cost-effective and energy efficient way of generating electricity, burning coal produces sulphur and nitrogen oxides,  radioactive elements, and a lot of ash.

Coal Power
Coal Power

Liquid Fuel Power – 2,409MW

Four liquid fuel turbine stations which produce 2,409MW of power are under Eskom’s control.

Diesel is the primary fuel used.

Nuclear Power – 1,830MW

Koeberg is Eskom’s sole nuclear plant, and produces 1,830MW of power at full capacity.

While nuclear energy does not produce carbon dioxide or large amounts of waste, Eskom states there is still a negative perception about nuclear energy and its safety.

Water disposal and constructing and maintaining a nuclear plant is also expensive.

Nuclear Power
Nuclear Power

Pumped Storage – 1,400MW

Eskom operates two pumped-storage stations which produce 1,400MW of power.

The pumped-storage stations produce electricity in a similar way to hydro stations, using moving water to turn a turbine.

How they differ is that the turbine can be used as a pump to push water to an upper reservoir, which is then released and used to generate power in times of demand.

Pumped Storage
Pumped Storage

Hydro Power – 600MW

Eskom has 6 hydro-electric stations in SA, which produce a total of 600MW.

While water is a renewable source of energy, Eskom said SA’s lack of suitable rivers and the impact of the construction of dams are barriers for the building of hydro plants.

Hydro Power
Hydro Power

Wind Power – 3MW

Eskom has one wind energy station – the Klipheuwel wind farm – which produces 3MW of power.

Wind energy is renewable, clean, and does not produce harmful emissions. Constant wind is not guaranteed, though, and wind generators are expensive to build.

Wind Power
Wind Power

Power plants in the works

Eskom said that besides running the existing 27 stations, it was in the process of building five new power stations in SA.

These stations would add over 11,000MW to the grid.

  • Medupi: coal-fired power station – 4,764MW
  • Kusile: coal-fired power station – 4,800MW
  • Ingula: pumped-storage scheme – 1,332MW
  • Sere: wind power facility – 100MW
  • Concentrating Solar Power project – 100MW

There are also biomass, wave, and nuclear projects in the planning phase which are being driven by the Department of Energy, said Eskom.

The infographic below details Eskom’s power stations and their contribution to the grid.

Where Eskom’s electricity comes from
Where Eskom’s electricity comes from

Thanks to Eskom for providing information on its power stations.

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Where Eskom’s electricity comes from