Eskom burning diesel worth billions

South African electricity outages remain at record levels despite the state power utility burning through vast quantities of diesel to bolster output.

Eskom said Tuesday that Stage 6 power cuts, whereby 6,000 megawatts of capacity is removed from the grid to prevent a total blackout, will be scheduled throughout the week.

That matches the deepest level of blackouts officially announced by the utility and caused the rand to extend earlier losses. 

While President Cyril Ramaphosa and Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa have given repeated assurances that they are tackling the energy crisis, little headway has been made in improving the performance of the coal-fired plants.

These power plans form the backbone of the generation system. Their poor performance had forced Eskom to increasingly use its auxiliary units to boost its output.

The utility’s data shows it’s generated more energy from its open-cycle gas turbines that run on diesel in the financial year that began April 1 than it did in the previous year.

It spent more than $1 billion on the fuel in the past year through March 31, more than double the previous period, a bill that’s set to escalate even further.

Eskom wasn’t immediately available to comment.


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