Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter detailed the state of the power utility’s electricity generation system in a media briefing on 21 May 2020.
Speaking at the briefing, De Ruyter said that the coal supply situation has improved due in part to the reduced demand for electricity under lockdown.
Short-term opportunistic maintenance has also been conducted at Eskom’s power plants, which has resulted in a more reliable power generation system with greater capacity.
“We have been able to do some short-term opportunity maintenance, and we have rebranded the philosophy maintenance programme to the reliability maintenance programme,” he said.
“We are making very good progress in addressing our maintenance backlog.”
“We have also taken steps to address the repurposing of power stations that are reaching the end of their operating lives and are due to be retired,” he said.
De Ruyter said that Eskom has not been able to conduct reliability maintenance due to restrictions enforced by the national lockdown, but it is prepared to quickly get started on this long-term maintenance following the easing of lockdown restrictions.
“We are navigating our way through this as best we can,” De Ruyter said.
“Perhaps in the midst of this crisis there is the seed of an opportunity to recover that will germinate into a stronger and more reliable Eskom going forward.”
Load-shedding during winter
Based on current data, Eskom’s outlook for the winter season shows that there is little to no load-shedding expected after lockdown.
The system outlook, which is subject to change, shows that only three days of stage 1 load-shedding are expected.
Additionally, Eskom states that if stage 1 and stage 2 load-shedding are required in winter, these power cuts will probably only be implemented in the evening.
“Stage 1 and 2 load-shedding, if required in winter has a lesser impact on the economy than in summer, because it is likely to only be required over evening peak (usually 17:00 to 20:00),” the company stated.
Load-shedding schedules are also staggered, which means that customers are not affected on consecutive days, and large industrial customers are not requested to curtail their demand for power under stages 1 and 2 in winter.
It is important to note that the risk of load-shedding will remain for the next year and a half as Eskom conducts its “reliability maintenance”, which it hopes will improve the overall stability of the electricity generation system.
“Although the base case scenario after lockdown maintenance results in an improvement from 31 days of Stage 1 load-shedding to a possible three days – it is important to recognise that due to the current unreliability and unpredictability of the system, the risk for load-shedding remains,” Eskom said.
“This will be the reality until after the 18 months of reliability maintenance.”
The graph below details Eskom’s outlook for the 2020 winter season.