Eskom’s energy availability factor (EAF) continues to decline steadily and is significantly worse than its targets for this year.
The National Treasury revealed this in a recent presentation to Parliament’s Standing Committee on Appropriations.
On Tuesday, the National Treasury provided Parliament with an update on Eskom’s performance for the first quarter of this financial year, including its EAF at the end of the quarter.
The EAF shows the percentage of time the power station was available for use when it was needed. It is a core measure of performance for any power utility.
The Treasury said Eskom’s EAF was reported as 54.49% as of 30 June 2023, signifying a decrease from earlier this year, which was recorded as 56.03% in March 2023.
The Treasury said that Eskom’s EAF “continues to decline steadily and is significantly worse than the proposed target of 65%”.
This decline was attributed mainly to an increase in unplanned losses (UCLF) to 34.97%, compared to 31.92% in March 2023.
During Q1, Eskom’s average unplanned unavailability was 16,718 MW – higher than the Winter Plan’s base-case assumption of 15,000 MW.
This resulted in load-shedding ranging from stage 2 to stage 6 on 91 days during the quarter.
The Treasury said Eskom continues to experience an increase in partial and full load losses, contributing significantly to the high UCLF.
Partial load losses continue to increase, reported at 6,927 MW (March 2023: 6,057 MW).
Coal-fired stations recorded an average energy utilisation factor (EUF) of 96.27% for the period, with EUF recorded at over 90% at all 14 coal-fired stations.
This is substantially above the international norm, which is expected to average around 75%, considering the age of Eskom’s fleet.
“Eskom and Independent Power Producer’s (IPP) open cycle gas turbines (OCGTs) continued to be utilised frequently during the past quarter to support the power system and limit the stages of load-shedding,” the Treasury said.
Eskom and IPP OCGTs generated 1,583 GWh during the quarter, at load factors of 24.2% and 22.3%, respectively.
This summary of Eskom’s performance in the first quarter seemingly contradicts Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa’s recent reports on the utility’s EAF.
On 25 June, Ramokgopa said in a media briefing that Eskom could maintain a much lower stage of load-shedding due to the significant improvement in its EAF.
The minister said Eskom was steadily approaching its target of achieving a 70% EAF.
This seemingly contradicts the National Treasury’s reporting of Eskom’s EAF as 54.49% and its statement that it is steadily declining.
The Ministry of Electricity clarified to Daily Investor what the Electricity Minister’s comments referred to.
“What was presented was the monthly performance of individual power stations at the time (third week of June 2023), showing a positive trajectory with our Flagship Power Stations with EAF performance beyond 80% and other critical ones at about 70% and beyond whilst others at about 60% and beyond,” the ministry said.
“This notwithstanding those that were still below 50% but also showing a positive trajectory. These individual stations, including Peaking Stations, were indeed showing that we are moving towards our FY25 target of 70%.”
The ministry also provided an update on Eskom’s current EAF.
“Recent performance as of 30 August 2023, the best-performing power station EAF performance ranges from 95% to 61%, and the rest range from 55% to 17%.”
The ministry said that since the end of June, when the National Treasury’s numbers were recorded, 9 out of 16 power stations have shown improvements.