Eskom mistakes cause 5 stages of load-shedding

Energy expert Professor Anton Eberhard said serious Eskom errors are to blame for at least five load-shedding stages.

Eberhard is a professor emeritus and senior scholar at the University of Cape Town, where he directs the Power Futures Lab at the Graduate School of Business.

He highlighted a few significant failures which caused tremendous damage to Eskom’s generation fleet:

  • In August 2021, a devastating explosion destroyed Medupi unit 4 after a blunder by the power plant’s staff created a volatile mixture of hydrogen and oxygen.
  • In September 2022, a fire at a gas air heater at Kusile unit 5 that had not been synchronised to the grid caused significant damage. It delayed bringing the new generation unit online for a year.
  • In October 2022, a failure on a duct exiting the sulfur dioxide absorber at the Kusile power plant took out three units at the 4,800MW power plant.

Eberhard added that South Africans could expect further delays in the project to extend the lifespan of Koeberg, the nuclear power station.

News24 recently reported that the project is running 45 days behind schedule, which means one unit with a 920MW capacity will be unavailable this winter.

Electricity Minister Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said the Koeberg project could not meet the target to return to service by 23 July because of unforeseen delays.

“We are going to lose 920MW, which we thought would come on stream by July, when we need it most, in the winter. That is the reality of the situation,” he said.

When asked for an update on the progress of Medupi’s repair, Eskom said unit 4 is estimated to return to service by 31 August 2024.

Eberhard said these are all consequences of severe Eskom errors, which means 4,700MW is offline. “It equals five stages of load-shedding,” he said.


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