Eskom cuts diesel spending

Eskom slashed its diesel usage in April, cutting spending from R3.1 billion in 2023 to R1.1 billion in 2024.

This was revealed by Eskom chairman Mteto Nyati, who told Newzroom Afrika that the utility has cut its diesel budget for the current financial year due to improved generation performance.

Nyati said this is due to the hard work put in by employees at Eskom and its management team for devising a thorough maintenance plan.

He explained that proper maintenance of the utility’s coal-fired power plants was key as this made them more reliable.

Eskom has had a years-long problem with inadequate maintenance, resulting in units regularly tripping after undergoing repairs.

This made the utility’s performance erratic and resulted in wild swings in load-shedding stages.

In response, the utility would often turn to its most reliable plants, its open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs), to smooth out the volatility and limit load-shedding.

Nyati explained that these plants were used throughout the day instead of only the morning and evening peaks for which they had been designed.

Thus, the utility spent heavily on diesel throughout its 2022 and 2023 financial years but has since begun to rein in the spending thanks to the improved performance of its coal-fired plants.

“What has changed is that we partnered with the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs),” he said. “When we take a plant down, we work with people with deep expertise about the equipment used at that plant.”

Previously, maintenance was done by people with limited or no understanding of the equipment at the plants.

Nyati said this was done over a year. “It was a very difficult period, and we had to spend a lot of money on diesel,” he said.

He explained that using OCGTs was necessary to compensate for the generation units taken offline for maintenance.

The plan worked. The generation units returning to service were far more reliable than before, helping to limit load-shedding.

Nyati added that the high diesel budget and OCGT use were necessary to support the big maintenance drive.

“We had to minimise the negative impact of load-shedding during the higher maintenance period,” he said.

Now that the results of the improved maintenance are showing, Eskom will cut its diesel budget in half.

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Eskom cuts diesel spending