Eskom hopes to reduce load-shedding by the weekend

Eskom plans to reduce load-shedding to stage 4 on Friday, 3 February 2023, with intentions to drop power cuts to stage 3 by Saturday.

This is according to Eskom’s head of generation, Thomas Conradie, who explained that the return of several generating units to service and low weekend demand should allow the power utility to reduce load-shedding.

During an Eskom media briefing on Thursday, 2 February, Conradie said the power utility had returned many units to service over the last day and expects several more to be added to the grid in the coming days.

This includes a unit at each of the Lethabo and Majuba power stations, which should return on Friday, 3 February, if all goes to plan.

“We have had a number of units returning over the last day, today, and tomorrow. [We are] anticipating to reduce load-shedding as we approach the weekend,” Conradie said.

Eskom was forced to implement stage 6 load-shedding overnight on Tuesday, 31 January 2023. South Africa has since been in continuous stage 5 power cuts.

Before the announcement, South Africa had been experiencing continuous stage 4 load-shedding since Sunday, 29 January.

Eskom board member Mteto Nyati spoke about the power utility’s long-term power station outages and the need for it to ensure it doesn’t run out of funds for diesel.

He explained that Koeberg unit 1 — which contributes 920MW of capacity to the grid — is offline for planned maintenance, which he said is progressing “in line with the plan”.

Mteto Nyati, Eskom board member

Nyati said three units at the Kusile power station are offline due to forced outages, and Eskom only expects to return the units to service around a year from now.

The three units each contribute 800MW to the national power grid, meaning the outages have removed 2.4GW of generation capacity.

Nyati said it is essential that Eskom manages its funds to ensure that it can buy diesel to run its open-cycle gas turbines (OCGT).

“We cannot afford to be running out of funds for diesel during this period,” he said.

Nyati said running the OCGTs is crucial for Eskom to reduce the impact of load-shedding.

Eskom’s fuel problems extend further than just diesel for its OCGTs. On 25 January 2023, it was revealed that Eskom had lost permission to import nuclear fuel from the US for its only nuclear power station, Koeberg.

The Agreement for Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy between the US and South Africa expired on 4 December, resulting in Westinghouse Electric Co. losing its license from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to export fuel-assembly components to the power station.

“Eskom is exploring the implications of the withdrawal of the US NRC approval for Westinghouse, and what is needed to enable them to continue supplying fuel,” the power utility said at the time.


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Eskom hopes to reduce load-shedding by the weekend