Eskom in deep trouble

Eskom’s latest energy availability factor shows that the power utility’s performance is rapidly declining, with big problems ahead to keep the lights on.

Energy analyst Chris Yelland revealed that Eskom’s EAF for the first 19 weeks of the year declined from 58.79% in 2022 to 52.56% in 2023.

Simply put, the energy availability factor decline means it has less generation power to serve South Africa’s electricity needs.

The EAF decline is particularly worrisome because Eskom’s plan to end load-shedding is based on increasing its energy availability factor to 70%.

Eskom planned to reach a 60% EAF by March 2023 and improve it to 65% by March 2024 and 70% by March 2025.

Unless Eskom succeeds in increasing the reliability of its generation fleet, South Africa should expect many more years of load-shedding.

The latest statistics substantiate Yelland and energy experts Anton Eberhard’s warnings that Eskom’s EAF targets are misguided and unrealistic.

Eberhard explained that it is hard to turn the EAF around without more spare generation capacity, which Eskom does not have.

Yelland explained that the energy availability factor is on a declining downward trend, which has been so for the past five years.

The EAF is based on the average performance of 90 generators in Eskom’s electricity generation fleet. “You cannot maintain or fix them simultaneously,” he said.

What this means, mathematically, is that the EAF is a continuum. There cannot be a discontinuity – also known as a step change – in the EAF trend.

“To increase Eskom’s EAF, there must first be a slowdown. It then has to bottom out, stabilise, and start to rise. This process will take several years,” he said.

Eskom’s EAF data for the first 19 weeks of the year confirmed that Eskom’s targets are misguided and that the downtrend continues.

Yelland explained that the EAF for the first sixteen weeks of the year is showing an alarming trend. “Things are significantly worse this year, and I don’t see an end to this,” he said.

It means that Eskom’s plan to increase its EAF is failing, and South Africa is in deep trouble regarding its electricity supply.

Eskom energy availability factor

Source: Data: Eskom; Graph: EE Business Intelligence.
Source: Data: Eskom; Graph: EE Business Intelligence.


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