South Africans should have never accepted load-shedding when it started 14 years ago, Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said.
Speaking to ENCA, he said a lack of maintenance and not bringing new generation capacity online is to blame for the continued load-shedding across the country.
He further highlighted that with the existing infrastructure, there is no way load-shedding can be eliminated.
“This is why Eskom formerly asked the government in December 2019 to procure an additional 4,000MW of capacity,” he said.
“With the current infrastructure, you cannot end load-shedding. You can maintain an old car all you want — it will never perform like a new car.”
“What Eskom continues to say is that we will be able to significantly reduce load-shedding once we are able to do maintenance on a large number of our generation units.”
What Mantshantsha is referring to is South Africa’s ageing power stations which are prone to breakdowns.
These older power stations need planned mid-life refurbishment to increase their lifespan and lower unplanned breakdowns.
The effect of not performing this maintenance is visible in Eskom’s energy availability factor (EAF), which has been declining for years.
EAF is a measure of the percentage of total electricity generated compared to the total installed capacity.
Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter said the current EAF, which is around 65%, is far below the 75% assumption made in the Integrated Resources Plan of 2019.
This leaves South Africa in a dire situation which calls for urgent interventions to resolve South Africa’s power crisis.
Energy expert Chris Yelland said the only solution to load-shedding is allowing and incentivising Eskom customers to become part of the solution.
“We must not just have one failing generation company. We must have hundreds or thousands of embedded generators all over the country,” he said.
This additional generation capacity will relieve the burden on Eskom which clearly cannot meet its obligation to supply electricity reliably.
“The more people self-generate, the less Eskom will have to generate,” said Yelland.
This will not kill Eskom’s revenue as is often feared, he said, because Eskom is losing revenue by not being able to supply electricity during load-shedding.
“Allowing others to fill the electricity generation gap is not only necessary but critical to move out of the current power shortages and to manage risk going forward.”