Eskom is implementing Stage 3 rotational power cuts between 17:00 and 22:00 on Monday and Tuesday, 16 and 17 May, and it could be upped to Stage 4 to manage Eskom’s diesel reserves.
The power utility’s COO, Jan Oberholzer, explained that Eskom is burning a lot of diesel in its open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs) — around two million litres a day — and its next delivery will only arrive on 24 May.
Oberholzer said that, as a result, Eskom might have to increase the load-shedding level to Stage 4 in the event of further breakdowns to manage its diesel reserves.
They could also have to implement load-shedding throughout the day.
He added that the power utility had already burnt 40 million litres of diesel this month.
According to Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter, South Africa has a significant shortfall of generating capacity for the evening peaks, during which the power utility expects demand to reach nearly 31,000MW.
Eskom uses a combination of load-shedding and OCGTs during the evening peaks to help it meet demand.
De Ruyter added that Eskom currently has 2,094MW offline due to planned maintenance and 16,307MW unavailable due to breakdowns.
“This is much higher than we would like,” De Ruyter stated.
The outages are due to breakdowns at several power stations, including Arnot, Duvha, Matla, Majuba, Lethabo, Kusile and Kriel.
Several generators broke down on Saturday, removing 2,500MW from the power grid.
Oberholzer mentioned that a significant problem Eskom was facing was boiler tube leaks, which can take anywhere from 12 to 16 days to repair, depending on where the leak is.
He added that the power utility currently has 3,800MW of generating capacity unavailable due to boiler leaks.
Eskom’s acting generation executive, Rhulani Mathebula, explained that the power utility expects to return 2,000MW to the grid today, 1,476MW on Tuesday, and 1,600MW on Wednesday.
He added that Eskom currently has 6,000MW of generation capacity that is “at-risk”, which the power utility is working to minimise.