Eskom Hurts Load Shedding as Power Supply Exceeds Demand

You’ve likely noticed – South Africa has gone over a month without any load shedding from Eskom. That’s because the struggling utility has made significant strides in boosting its generation capacity and reducing unplanned outages. Let’s dive into the details behind this welcome development.

Eskom Hurts Load Shedding as Power Supply Exceeds Demand
Eskom Hurts Load Shedding as Power Supply Exceeds Demand

Unplanned Breakdowns Cut Almost in Half One of the biggest culprits behind load shedding has been unplanned breakdowns and outages at Eskom’s aging coal power plants. But in a surprising turnaround, unplanned outages are down a massive 4.4GW compared to this time last year.

To put that in perspective, it’s nearly the equivalent of Medupi Power Station’s entire capacity coming back online.

This reduction in breakdowns has Eskom’s unplanned capacity loss factor at its lowest levels in ages. The utility credits its “generation recovery plan” launched in March 2023 for finally getting a handle on these nagging issues.

Energy Availability Climbs Above 60% With fewer units unexpectedly going offline, Eskom’s overall energy availability has significantly improved. Their energy availability factor (EAF) – the percentage of maximum energy that a plant is capable of supplying – exceeded 60% at the end of April and even hit 65% on May 1st.

Eskom to Meet Country’s Electricity Demand

For context, last year’s EAF languished at only 53% for the same period. A higher EAF indicates Eskom can meet more of the country’s electricity demand from its own generation. The utility hopes to keep building on these gains heading into winter.

Why the Sudden Improvement? At a recent media briefing, Eskom leadership outlined the key interventions that have stabilized plant performance:

  • Maintaining already well-running stations
  • Dedicating resources to problematic stations for proper maintenance
  • Appointing experienced plant managers to lead turnarounds

They also cited lower demand from increased rooftop solar as easing strain on the grid. Impressively, Eskom has been able to increase supply without relying heavily on expensive diesel turbines.

Current Reprieve from Load Shedding

The Road Ahead While thrilled about the current reprieve from load shedding, Eskom knows keeping this momentum won’t be easy. The upcoming winter months always bring higher demand. However, the utility now expects to limit outages to Stage 2 or lower if all goes well.

After years of struggles, Eskom finally has some positive operating metrics to celebrate. You can expect them to capitalize on this opportunity by doing further targeted maintenance while they have that flexibility. If sustained, these improvements could mark a true turning point in South Africa’s energy crisis.



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