An energy expert has warned of the ongoing mess at power utility, Eskom, which could see load shedding continue for the next three years.
Eskom continued with stage 2 load shedding on Wednesday (19 August), “due to the severe constraints in the power generation system,” it said.
It said tat six generators were returned to service at Medupi, Tutuka, Kendal, Majuba and Grootvlei power stations. However the breakdown of four units at Medupi, Duvha, Majuba, and Lethabo power stations, as well as a delay in the expected return to service of a unit at Medupi had resulted in the power system being constrained.
“Any further deterioration in the generation performance may therefore necessitate the escalation of load shedding at short notice,” Eskom warned.
“As the aged generation infrastructure is unreliable and volatile, this constrained power system is expected to persist for the rest of the week, particularly as the cold front hits.
Lungile Mashele, an energy specialist at the Development Bank of Southern Africa, told PowerFM on Wednesday morning that a lack of power is hampering the country’s ability to re-ignite its economy.
Using a taxi analogy, Mashele said that Eskom claims it has 10 taxis in its fleet; however, on any given day, they can only rely on six taxis to actually be in operation.
The expert also questioned whether the country has skills to run the new plants. “I don’t think Eskom is short of managers. However, they are very short of the actual implementers and workers.”
“We cannot run away from Eskom’s ageing fleet and the fact that you have parts that perhaps we do not have and they are difficult to get in during this time of lockdown,” Mashele said.
“How do we fix this? Obviously, we continue maintaining where we can maintain. We stop sending money where it’s not necessary on plants that we should be decommissioning, or that should have been decommissioned a long time ago,” she said.
Mashele also noted that industry specialists have warned that unless reforms are made at the power, load shedding will continue for the next two to three years.
This after Eskom chief executive officer, Andre de Ruyter, told Parliament in June that the utility’s systems are still unpredictable.
“It is important to recognise that due to the unreliability and unpredictability of the system, the risk of load shedding remains,” he said.
“This will be the reality until after the 18 months of reliability maintenance, which will last until August 2021.”
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