Three load-shedding stages gone by year-end 

Load-shedding should be reduced by three stages by the end of the year, with Kusile’s units returning to service and Eskom’s intensified maintenance strategy bearing fruit. 

Former Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer told BizNews that South Africans could expect around 3,000 MW of generation capacity to come back online by the end of December. 

Oberholzer left Eskom last month after 26 years at the utility, where he rose through the ranks to the position of COO in 2018. 

In November 2022, Oberholzer announced that he would retire from the state-owned power utility in April 2023 after over 30 years of service.

However, when Bheki Nxumalo was appointed Group Executive for Generation, Oberholzer took up a two-year fixed-term contract with Eskom.

Oberholzer would support the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station long-term operation (LTO) and Kusile Power Station projects. 

Before he could complete his two-year contract, Oberholzer decided to leave Eskom as he felt he could add more value outside of the utility. 

Jan Oberholzer
Former Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer

The former COO said it is difficult to say when load-shedding will end as Eskom will continue to have significant challenges with its coal fleet. 

Eskom is forced to run its coal fleet hard as demand exceeds supply by a substantial amount. This makes the fleet’s performance unreliable and unpredictable. 

Oberholzer said the utility has to bring additional capacity online to take its coal units offline for proper maintenance. 

To this end, Eskom has undergone an intensified maintenance programme initiated by its former CEO, Andre de Ruyter. 

This program is beginning to bear fruit. “Slowly but surely, I can see there is a positive contribution to performance from that investment. It needs to continue,” Oberholzer said. 

Furthermore, Oberholzer oversaw the numerous projects taking place at the Kusile power station. 

Eskom is busy repairing the flue gas duct of Kusile’s unit 1 after its failure in October 2022. 

The failure at Unit 1 subsequently affected Units 2 and 3 as the ducts for all these three units are in the same stack (chimney).

Oberholzer anticipates the three units to return online before the year’s end, contributing 2,100 MW to the grid. 

Unit 5 at Kusile should also sync to the grid before 2024, adding a further 700 MW. A total of 2,800 MW equates to nearly three stages of load-shedding. 

When coupled with Eskom’s intensified maintenance strategy, this will reduce load-shedding by three stages before the end of the year.


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