Eskom turnaround miracle

Eskom has performed a remarkable turnaround with regard to its Energy Availability Factor (EAF), crossing 65% during this week.

This is feedback from Chris Yelland, energy analyst and managing director of EE Business Intelligence, who outlined Eskom’s impressive EAF improvement.

The utility has managed to stave off load-shedding for over 50 days, beginning at the end of March.

Many South Africans have been sceptical of this sudden improvement in Eskom’s performance, especially with the general elections at the end of May.

Chairman Mteto Nyati has been trying to convince the public that the utility’s improved performance is sustainable and that Eskom is not playing political games.

“We are not playing any political games. That is not who we are, and we are never going to start playing those games in the future,” he has said.

“Our focus is to help sort out the challenges facing our country. There is absolutely no connection between the two things.”

Yelland agreed with Nyati, saying conspiracy theories suggesting there was political interference at Eskom to turn it into an electioneering tool “are way off the mark”.

“A company like Eskom, with thousands and thousands of employees of all different persuasions, makes it very unlikely, if not impossible, to sustain a secret conspiracy of this nature.”

“This would be obvious to people working there and living in the neighbourhood.”

However, he does think the elections had something to do with Eskom’s recent change in behaviour and improved performance.

Because South Africa was plunged into near-permanent load-shedding, Eskom became a political issue about a year and a half ago.

“This issue demanded resolution because of the pending elections, which is good. It brought a sense of urgency to do what should always have been done,” he told eNCA.

Chris Yelland, energy analyst and EE Business Intelligence MD

In a social media post, Yelland explained Eskom’s turnaround further, using data to show the sustained decline in unplanned breakdowns and improved EAF.

While Eskom’s EAF is expected to improve going into winter as its seasonal maintenance conducted during summer winds down, its unplanned outages have been kept to a minimum.

Yelland said the utility has managed to keep its unplanned breakdowns consistently five percentage points lower than that for the first 17 weeks of 2024.

With units returning to service as Eskom winds down its maintenance, the utility’s week-on-week EAF has shot up to over 65%, higher than the corresponding weeks in 2021, 2022, and 2023.

Yelland described this turnaround as “truly remarkable”, given where the utility has come from regarding its deteriorating performance.

This indicates that Eskom has conducted more maintenance and that its repairs to units have been of higher quality.

The utility has had a years-long problem of repairing units, only for them to trip shortly after returning to service due to poor maintenance quality.

This appears to have been resolved, with Eskom collaborating with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to conduct better maintenance.

Eskom’s dramatic EAF improvement can be seen in the graph below, courtesy of Chris Yelland.

This article was first published by Daily Investor and is reproduced with permission.

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Eskom turnaround miracle