Eskom’s energy availability factor (EAF) for 2019 is significantly lower than what it was in the past three years – and is cause for serious concern.
This is according energy analyst and EE Publishers MD Chris Yelland, who released an EAF graph for the past four years based on Eskom’s weekly updates.
The energy availability factor shows the percentage of Eskom’s generation capacity which is available, taking into account planned maintenance and unplanned breakdowns.
Yelland explained that Eskom currently has around 45,000MW of generation capacity, of which between 60% and 65% was available so far this year.
This is significantly lower than the previous three years, which is a big problem in itself. The biggest concern however, is the strange downward trend in 2019.
Eskom’s EAF has declined in the first 12 weeks of 2019, the inverse of what one should see in the run-up to winter.
In other words: the gap between Eskom’s electricity generation capacity in 2019 and previous years is growing instead of shrinking.
Unless this gap is decreased as a matter of urgency South Africans can expect a winter with even more load-shedding.
Mystery EAF trend
Yelland said it is normal for Eskom’s EAF to be lower in summer months as more maintenance is scheduled during this period to prepare for winter.
As winter approaches, the EAF increases to meet the growing demand for electricity – as was the case in 2016, 2017, and 2018.
In 2019, however, this pattern is the inverse of what one should see.
Yelland said it is difficult to explain this very alarming decline, which could signal big problems in the winter months.
He said maintenance alone cannot explain the EAF decline and it may involve lower productivity or even sabotage from staff.
With power supply and demand being so close at the moment, Eskom will need to quickly reverse the EAF trend in 2019 if it wants to avoid crippling load-shedding in winter.
Energy availability factor graph
The graph below shows Eskom’s week-on-week energy availability factor for 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.