Disaster strikes at Eskom

Critical work at the Kusile power plant was halted following contractual disputes between Eskom and Tenova Mining and Minerals.

News24 reported that Tenova, which is building coal conveyor belts at Kusile’s units five and six, stopped work two weeks ago following the contractual disputes.

Eskom stopped paying Tenova as a strategy to offset overpayments the power utility made over a few years.

Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha confirmed the dispute with Tenova but said the contractor has only suspended work on unit five at Kusile.

According to the report, this problem can delay the commercial operation of units five and six at Kusile by several months.

If these units do not come online as planned, it can further aggravate the already desperate load-shedding situation South Africa finds itself in.

Eskom is currently unable to supply the country with enough electricity after numerous unplanned breakdowns and other problems.

The power utility said load-shedding was needed following the extensive use of emergency generating reserves and further unit breakdowns over the weekend, which resulted in a shortage of almost 22,500MW.

The problems Eskom currently face include:

  • A major incident in Zambia resulted in the imported power from Cahora Bassa being reduced by 1,000MW.
  • A Tutuka generator tripped.
  • Generation units at the Medupi and Matla power stations tripped.
  • A unit at Tutuka power station was forced to shut down.
  • A unit at Kendal remains offline following a power fault with its coal conveyor belt.
  • There were further delays in returning a unit each at Lethabo and Majuba power stations.
  • There is a shortage of diesel to run the open-cycle gas turbines, limiting Eskom’s ability to generate additional emergency power.

Analysts have warned that, despite Eskom’s promise of limited load-shedding from September 2021, South Africans should prepare for more blackouts in years to come.

Now read: Eskom under siege

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Disaster strikes at Eskom